Salut Mes Être Chers !
After now having been in an apartment with not one but TWO francophones who speak no English, it feels as though French has become my first language. Haha! I laugh, but seriously, trying to
write this entire email in English has been one of the most mentally exhausting things I have done in a while! Every thought, emotion, joke, expression, or word that comes into my head now comes very first in French. Even the very first words that come out of my mouth in the morning are French. It is a weird feeling when speaking your native language starts feeling unnatural.
My new Companion's name is Soeur Corneta and she is from Geneva Switzerland ! I ADORE her. We never stop laughing or having fun. It's going to be a great transfer! We are both coming up our our halfway marks here pretty soon so we will get to celebrate together ;) She is a couple weeks ahead of me because she only spent one week in the MTC--due to the fact that she already speaks French--But we are basically the same "age" in the mission :)
Soeur Witham (other Sister in our apartment) got called to be a trainer and her Blue is from Lyon, France. She also only speaks French. So basically, Soeur Witham and I will be francophones in no
time! ;) It's been great fun!
The other day Soeur Witham was having a rough day. So, Soeur Corneta and I, being the jokesters that we are, wrote "HAHA, GOTCHA! ;)" on a banana and hid it under her pillow. The plan was that when she went to put her hands under her pillow that night, she would grab the banana and be like, "What the?" Hahahaha. We thought we were pretty funny. Although, it was really awkward because turns out... Witham sleeps on her back... We all got a good laugh out of that one. #Fail
The Irish are swarming our streets for the Eurocup. For those of you who don't know what that is... Imagine the Super Bowl, in France, then change it to soccer, multiply it by 7 continents, and add a
wwwwhhhhoooollleeee ton of Beer. They are seriously everywhere. I am not sure how I feel about it. I have never seen so much beer in my entire life... I don't know how it is even possible that they are
still up and moving with that much alcohol in their system! Last week was the Russians. They didn't drink near as much, but on the other hand, we weren't allowed to go into town because they were a lot more violent hahaha.
To add to the worldliness of all of that, the other day Soeur Corneta and I were trying to get home but all of the roads were blocked off by police teams as a bunch of nudists and male strippers paraded down the streets dancing and blasting music. Needless to say, we took the scenic route home. Don't worry, when I say scenic, I am talking about the park, not the parade hahaha.
On a more pleasant note, Sœur Corneta and I were sitting in the metro the other day and we decided to try and make up a goofy little missionary Rap. While taking turns attempting to beatbox as the other tried to rap, we actually got a lot of positive vibes from our fellow metro riders! This man across from us even jumped in on it which gave another person the courage to jump in from the other corner of the metro! We rapped the entire missionary objective with those guys ;) They thought we were pretty cool. We got the whole metro groovin'!
It was such a goofy little thing but it really helped soften the hearts of those people towards us as they realized that missionaries are normal people and not the robots that they expect us to be. Mormons know how to have fun too! ;)
On an even better note, I would love to share a sweet miracle that we had this week. I will also share a little bit in French for a few of my French friends that also wanted to read it.
Soeur Corneta and I were in the metro and sitting right in front of us was a veiled Muslim woman and her son. We saw that she had been staring at our plaques for quite a while, so, we started talking with
her. It's always a bit awkward when you catch someone plaque checking you and call them out on it hahaha. But hey, it works! ;)
We had a long discussion about the differences between our believes until we pulled out the Book of Mormon and began to testify of Christ. As we testified that he was truly to son of God, she started to cry. Then she said, "I am Muslim, but, when I listen to a Christian speak of the Christ, I just feel that it is true." The metro was filled with the spirit. Her name was Samia and she accepted a Book of Mormon and the invitation to come to church on Sunday! She is a single mother of 5 kids and she is wonderful. Immediately after talking together she turned to her sons and said, "we are going to go to this church on Sunday!" It was incredible.
Tout d'abord j'aimerais vous raconter un miracle que nous avons eu cette semaine. Nous étions dans le métro et en face de nous il y avait une femme musulmane avec son fils. Je voyais qu'elle regardais ma plaque longtemps alors j'ai commencée a lui parler. Nous avons eu une longue discussion sur nos différence jusqu'à que je partage le livre de mormon et que je témoigne du Christ et que réellement je sais que c'est le fils de Dieu. A ce moment la elle a pleurée.. Elle a dit: " je suis musulman, mais, quand j'entends une chrétienne parlée du Christ je sens que c'est vrai" Ce métro est devenu un lieu remplis d'esprit. Elle s'appelle Samia elle a acceptée le livre de mormon et (elle est venue a l'église) ce dimanche. Elle est mère célibataire avec 5 enfants. Elle est merveilleuse.
Samia showed up at church yesterday. It was the most incredible miracle. We were sitting in Church when our phone went off. I have no idea how it went off because it was on silent, we even checked! But somehow it ring anyway. Normally, if something like that happens, we'd just hit ignore and pretend it didn't happen. But, for some reason I looked at the random number on the screen and felt it was urgent. I jumped up and ran out of the room in order to catch it in time. It was Samia! She had been searching for our church all morning but just couldn't seem to find it. We were able to help direct her and when she got here the ward was SO excited. It's really hard to get investigators to church here so we consider ourselves extremely lucky if we can manage to get even one person to come. This week we had SEVEN investigators show up at church! I have never seen so many happy faces as the members watched them just keep flooding in. It was such a miracle. Miracles happen!... Even in France ;)
Another sweet little miracle that just really touched our hearts the other day was when I got to save a little baby kitten from a tree. I have absolutely no idea how it got all the way up there but it was trying so hard to get down and the poor little thing just kept slipping and getting scared haha. I wasn't sure what to do when we saw the little guy. We couldn't very well climb the tree in our Sunday Best. So, I walked up and stood at the base of the tree with my arms extended as far out and up as I could get them. He stared at me in the eyes for a minute and then finally decided he could trust me haha. He started to climb down little by little, inching himself closer and closer to me. Then, when he got to the point where he couldn't inch anymore and I couldn't reach any higher, he looked at me straight in the eyes as if to say, "Are you going to catch me?" I guess my eyes answered "yes" because at that moment he crouched down and leaped right into my arms!
I have never been a fan of cats, in fact, I'm allergic to cats. But, this was such a sweet miracle because it made me think about our Savior, and how we are all a little bit like this little kitten. As I stood at the base of that tree, waiting for the kitten to come to me so that I could help him down, there were several moments when he began to slip and I quickly repositioned myself under his little body, ready to catch him if he fell. As we went through this process, I began visualizing myself in the place of this kitten...Only it was The Lord who was standing at the base of my tree with his arms extended out to me, inviting me to take that leap of faith so that he could save me.
"Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me." (3 Nephi 9:14)
This scripture now has new meaning to me as I will forever remember that little kitten who trusted me enough to take that leap of faith and taught me the lesson of a lifetime.
À la prochaine, Bisous Bisous !
Je vous aime tous !
Xoxo- Sœur Wyson
Bonjour À tous! Je suis toujours vivante!
To kick off an incredible week, Soeur Clements and I were in the middle of studies when I got this crazy prompting to go outside early, finish studies later, and try to pass by Eugenie--a woman that we have been trying to contact ever since I got here. So, we threw on our coats and shoes and headed out the door! We got off the metro and as we were walking down the street, Soeur Clements sees the back of this woman's head from way down the street and she yells, "THATS EUGENIE!!" Without hesitation we took off running down the street to catch her before we lost her. Don't worry, we were behind her so she didn't see us creepily running toward her ;).
We finally caught up to her right as she turns and walks into a book store on the corner... DOH! Well... we weren't about to give up that easily... Yup, we followed her into the bookstore... At this point I am sure you are all thinking that my companion and I are just a little creepy. You may be right. But, this is Eternal Salvation we are talking about! As we walked around the bookstore and checked out the newest collection of French Cuisine books, we just happened to run right into Eugenie ;)... She was SO happy to see us, she kissed us four times EACH! We were able to fix another rendezvous and it was such a miracle. Ahhh, what a way to start the week!! :)
Later that night we tried a new thing that we like to call "Power Hour." Power hour is the hour right before a rendezvous with a member family. It's "Power" because we go to their neighborhood and look for as many miracles as we can find during that time! Then, we get to tell the family about all of the cool miracles that we had right there in their neighborhood!
This night in particular, we went out to visit the family Stagno. We started with a prayer as we stood at the end of their street. Then, starting with their next-door neighbors, we knocked on every door on the street. Normally, it wouldn't take very long to knock one street because people don't ever let you in haha. Lucky for us, miracles happen :) The second door we knocked on was a sweet young mom with her two little kids. Initially she said she wasn't believing, or interested. But, we felt prompted to testify to her about the sacredness of the family. We began to teach how the gospel strengthens the family. As we taught, her heart was touched by the spirit and she listened very intently, as did her little kids. Wendy allowed us to leave her family with a prayer and by the end of the prayer she had tears streaming down her face. They invited us to come back and have family night with them next week :).
During that power hour, we ended up teaching 5 lessons, finding two new family's, and 3 new Amis. All on the very same street as the family Stagno. They were thrilled to hear the news :) It was an incredible testimony to all of us of the Lord's work and how important it is to invite those around us to hear his gospel..
"And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night. And I will give unto him strength such as is not known among men." (D&C 24:12)
The Lord truly does give us this strength when we open our mouths to declare his gospel. I have seen it and I have felt it.
Exchange miracles are real. Every time we have exchanges, we see a ridiculous amount of miracles! It's amazing! This week we had an exchange with some missionaries who had been really struggling to find the motivation to get out and work. Well, after that exchange I can tell you exactly why they were having those struggles...
In teaching with these two sisters, the spirit was so incredibly powerful when they opened their mouths and bore testimony of the ways the gospel has impacted their lives. It was clear that the investigators truly felt their love, and their honesty. We saw an unbelievable amount of miracles that day and I would like to share just a few of them.
A Nice New Shirt and a Future Baptism:
The first miracle began up in Belgium. We were walking around in the pouring rain when we happened to knock on the door of a Russian family, who happened to be inactive members of the church, with a daughter who wanted to be baptized. We were drenched and had no coats so they invited us in to share a message with them and they gave us new shirts to change into. Their daughter is 12 and really wants to be baptized but her family is struggling to get to church. So, until we can get the whole family back to church, we were able to call a member family who lives down the street from them to take the daughter to church with them every week :).
By the time dinner rolled around, I was absolutely exhausted. I laid down for a few minutes to take a quick power nap and was awakened by the continual circling thought of the word, "Marbrerie". I opened my eyes, looked at the sisters, and told one of them to grab their shoes and come with me...we were going to Marbrerie! Marbrerie is a neighborhood a few metro stops away from our apartment. We don't go their often because it's not the safest place in our sector. But, we really felt strongly about going at that time.
As soon as we got off the metro we saw a woman sitting down and both of us knew we were there to talk to her. Feeling prompted to share the message of the Plan of Salvation, we talked about eternal families. She was so touched. We fixed another rendezvous with her and then as she was leaving she told us that she had just barely found out that she was pregnant.
After teaching Delphine, we received another prompting to pass by a part member family who lived around the corner. The wife, Dora, isn't a member and we have passed by her house about 10 times since I have been here. She hasn't been there a single time. But, 11th time is a charm... Right? Well, It must be!! Dora answered! I was so in shock I couldn't even get anything out of my mouth Lol. I started speaking French and she just stared blankly at me. Turns out, she only speaks English haha. My English is a little on the rough side but I managed to explain who we were and she invited us in to share a little message with her. The spirit in the lesson was so powerful. By the end of the lesson, Dora committed to start reading the Book of Mormon.
So after having seen all these incredible exchange miracles, having heard them testify, and having felt the power of the spirit in the lesson, my verbal response for the sisters was... "No wonder Satan
doesn't want you to have motivation to go outside!! If you did, you would baptize every single person in France!!"
This applies to each and every one of us. Next time you are feeling unmotivated to do something you know is good, do it anyways! Because if you don't, you will have missed out on the miracle that God
prepared for you and that Satan didn't want you to have.
Baby's First word:
The Lille sisters have been teaching a cute little family with a baby boy who has high functioning autism. When they met the family the little boy couldn't say a single word. The other day during a lesson with the sisters the little boy yelled his first word and the parents where absolutely dumbfounded. Can you guess what he said?... "MORMON!" Hahaha yessss!! If that isn't revelation than I don't know what is ;).
Friday we got a message at 6:30 in the morning saying we were doing an emergency evacuation drill. We have never done one of those so we were all pretty confused haha. I guess it's a good thing we did it then right? ;) Even though it was freezing and pouring rain, we managed to make it out safely! Hahaha :)
This week we saw so many miracles and had 75 total lessons! It was crazy! To finish an awesome week we had a "Meet the Mormons" activity in the middle of town and we had so many people coming up to us and asking about "The Mormons" that we didn't have enough members or missionaries to respond to all of them! They were seriously lined up waiting to talk to us! It was amazing! We also got transfer calls! I will be staying an STL in Villeneuve D'Ascq and my new companion will be Soeur Cornetta! I haven't met her yet but I have heard she is great :) She is a Francophone (speaks French) and she doesn't speak English. So that will definitely push me in the Language ;)! I'm stoked! Well, that's it for this week folks! Love you all! Oh! And remember... Miracles happen, even in France!!! ;)
Soeur Wyson (Tracie)
Coucou à tous !
There is a ridiculous amount of spiders here. They are everywhere! Not to mention, they fly!! I remember learning about these things in my middle school biology class. It must have been a sick joke. Flying spiders?... Right... Well, sadly, the rumors are true...these little guys fall straight from the sky! It's actually quite interesting, and disgusting... They make little web parachutes so that they can catch the wind and travel farther. Then, as soon as they see something nice to latch onto, they release!! Eeeeek. Doesn't that just give you the hee-be-da-ba-gibies?
The other day I was out finding with Soeur Johnson. We were in the middle of a really great contact when I see this spider comin' in for the kill. Yup, straight into her hair. Between being terrified of spiders and not wanting to throw off her groove, I was in quite the dilemma. But, needing to act fast, I quickly grabbed her hair and yanked that little dude out! I guess you could say I felt pretty heroic ;) We both felt like spiders were crawling all over us for the rest of the day. They probably were, haha.
Sunday in the Metro we were talking with the elders when all of the sudden Soeur Clements' eyes double in size and she says..."Ummm...Elder...? Would you be offended if I slapped you right now?" Very confused, the elder looked back at her, but before he could respond she shrieked and her hand came flying through the air to slap a spider that had gotten a little too comfy on his collar, Hahaha.
Everyone in our apartment has been waking up with bites all over their legs. We all had a bit of a bed-bug-panic and washed all the sheets in our apartment. When that didn't work we decided to do a little further investigating... Can you guess what we found? Did you guess, Spiders? If you did, you were right. Those little creeps had been dropping in from the tree right outside our window. Now the only struggle is... Our apartment is a furnace. With no air-conditioning, no windows to open, and a dryer that manages to turn our apartment into a sauna... We are beginning to wonder what's worse. Heat exhaustion...or the spiders? We still haven't opened the windows so I guess it's safe to say no one likes spiders.
Well, that's enough talk about spiders... As my companion is tackling the last 9 days of her mission, this past week has consisted of a lot funeral (I mean farewell) errands, and many more to come. Thus, I don't have very much time to write today. But, I wanted to share a quick miracle before wrapping up :)
Our district spent an entire day in Valenciennes to help the missionaries out. They set up a "finding Bingo" to give us some fun objectives to complete, such as contacting people on Family history,
or giving out a Book of Mormon. We contacted just about every single person in the entire Ville before seeing anything happen. We were pretty discouraged at this point because we had talked to so many people and had absolutely no success in finding someone to teach.
As the day was coming to an end and we were running low on energy, we decided to contact one last person... Rafael, a young Christian boy about our age, happened to be on his way to a soccer game when we stopped him. We had a great conversation and presented to him, a Book of Mormon. If that contact was not miracle enough in itself...Later that night as we were headed home, I turned my head and glanced down the street just in time to see Rafael... Walking and reading the Book of Mormon that we had given him.
This experience reminded me of one of my favorite scriptures as a missionary, ... "Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success." (Alma 26:27)
With Love, Sister Wyson
Last week I was signing in the metro when I noticed a young man who just couldn't seem to stop staring. So, naturally, I called him out on it ;). After asking him if he had ever seen people do sign language, he responded by saying, "Actually, I was more impressed with the fact that you were signing while switching between perfect French and English every other sentence" ... I had no idea I was doing that, and it definitely wasn't perfect French haha, but I thought it was pretty funny :) I wanted to talk to him a little more but, of course, the next stop was his... I quickly pulled out a card with our number on it and threw it to him as he was getting off--without explaining ANYTHING hahaha. He texted us later that night and I think it's safe to say he wasn't texting us with intentions of fixing a rendezvous to talk about Jesus, haha. Don't worry, I told him that we were missionaries before Inviting him to come to dinner with a family in our ward the next day ;). After doing a little (a lot) of investigating, he came to the conclusion that we weren't organ traffickers and that we weren't just leading him into a trap; he agreed to come. Yes, he really thought that. Oh boy hahaha.
When we first got to the rendezvous it was a disaster. They had forgotten we were coming and so the husband wasn't home yet. There were kids screaming and running everywhere. Then, we we thought it couldn't get any worse, the wife lifts her shirt up (without blanket or warning) and just starts breastfeeding right in front of our brand new ami!! Soeur Clements and I wanted to die. Then she asks, " So what made you interested in taking the missionary lessons?" (At this point he literally had no idea he was about to get a missionary lesson...we didn't get that far in the metro...) of course he was confused and says... "Huh? What do you mean?" (Face palm). We managed to play it pretty cool but we were both definitely panicking on the inside hahaha.
Luckily, somehow, the rendezvous made a dramatic turn and ended really well. Emanuel had so many golden questions and the spirit was very strong. Though I probably wouldn't suggest inviting people to soirée familiale without actually telling them why you are there haha... It's kind of awkward. ;) But, lucky for us... Miracles happen... Even in France ;)!
Aside from that exciting rendezvous, this week consisted of lots of exchanges, being sick, a Muslim holiday, and an ENORMOUS gay pride festival.
Starting with exchanges, Soeur Romney and I spent about 4 hours knocking on every door in an entire neighborhood without a single response. Then, as we were leaving, we got swarmed by Muslims who where all on their way home from the Mosque. Turns out we chose to proselyte in the most Muslim populated neighborhood in the North, and we chose to do it on Ramadan hahaha.
Sunday I was sick again. The entire sacrament meeting I had a bad migraine. My face got so pale and sweaty that eventually I went outside to try to get some air so I wouldn't throw up. The elders followed me out to see if I was alright and one of the elders looked at me and said, "Man... You have been through so much this week...is there anything we can do to help?" Just then... A soccer ball flys out of nowhere and nails me in the head hahaha. Just my luck. Thankfully I made it to the bathroom before throwing up.
Elder Congerton called while I was sleeping and asked if he and elder Conley could come give me a priesthood blessing. When my companion asked me I said no because I am stubborn, and I have always been hesitant to let anyone other than my dad give me blessings. But, knowing how stubborn I am...They came over anyways haha.
I learned a very beautiful and humbling lesson that day as Elder Congerton gave me one of the sweetest blessings I've ever heard. After the blessing he looked and me and expressed how much the Lord loved me. It was such a humbling experience when I realized, no matter which priesthood holder the blessing comes from, it's all the same power.
To add to the sweet blessing, Elder Congerton made us a yummy, dairy free, fruit cake :). I'm a lot better today so whether it was the blessing or the cake, I'm grateful that miracles happen--in France! ;)
Other things that happen in France...Gay Pride in France...I have never seen anything like it. The entire city was rainbows, loud music, screaming, and parade floats filled with cross dressers. It was impossible to talk to anyone. No one wanted to listen to the missionaries talk about happiness when there was an enormous party raging all around them. As we were being run over by enormous crowds of people trying to chase after and jump on the floats, I really felt like I was living Lehi's dream.
That night I came across a beautiful conference talk by President Boyd K. Packer, which you may remember as “a cookie and a kiss." He testified that “the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth … is essential … and is the source of human happiness. Through the righteous exercise of this [creative] power, we may come close to our Father in Heaven and experience a fullness of joy, even godhood. The power of procreation is not an incidental part of the plan; it is the plan.”
I was hesitant to share this in my group email, knowing it is a very sensitive subject for many. But as I looked out at all these confused people, my heart just ached for them. In a world of confusion, so many of the answers and assurances that we are searching for can come through daily searching and studying the scriptures and with sincere and pleading prayer, but there are no such promises on the Internet, magazines, festivals, or other forms of worldly excitement.
"Sisters [and Brothers], I do not know why we have the many trials that we have, but it is my personal feeling that the reward is so great, so eternal and everlasting, so joyful and beyond our understanding that in that day of reward, we may feel to say to our merciful, loving Father, “Was that all that was required?” I believe that if we could daily remember and recognize the depth of that love our Heavenly Father and our Savior have for us, we would be willing to do anything to be back in Their presence again, surrounded by Their love eternally. What will it matter, dear sisters, what we suffered here if, in the end, those trials are the very things which qualify us for eternal life and exaltation in the kingdom of God with our Father and Savior?"- Linda S.
I would just like to add my testimony to that of Sister Reeves, that our bodies truly are sacred gifts from our Heavenly Father. I know that as we keep our lives pure and clean, always relying on the atoning sacrifice of our Savior. We will be able to overcome our weaknesses, find true happiness, and as our Father has promised us, one day receive “all that [our] Father hath.”
With an enormous amount of love,
Ps- Happy late birthday Jar!!! Not sure how old you are because I can't even seem to keep track of my own age. But you look great ! ;)
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.