Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Staying in Toulon (Jacob)

Well this has been a crazy last couple of days and week. There have been real miracles here in Toulon that I have been grateful to take part in. Friday, like you know we got our Transfer calls. It is weird to think that there are thousands of missionaries all over the world who are living every 6 weeks and then they get one call telling them that in 3 days they could move across the country, or state, or whatever and just continue. It is so cool, but could be seen as as a little weird... :) As far as some of the calls that we received in our apartment. Elder Frandsen got called to take a nice little field trip across the sea to Corsica!!! He is serving with Elder Call, our Former ZL! I got a not as out of the blue, crazy call saying that i would be staying (which I was actually super happy for!). I received my new collegue (companion) last night coming from Bergerac and he calls himself Elder Blythe! He is from Texas so we are going to be having a lot of fun together! :) It has been kind weird being in charge because he has no idea where to go and I have been showing him around.

As far as Toulon is going, the weather is still super nice!! Elder Nye (from the MTC) is also going to Corsica and I saw him last night, and he told me that where he was last serving, up north in St. Etienne, he was walking around with a winter coat and scarf on. Here we still have to debate between short or long sleeve and if we want to wear a suit coat. So I feel pretty blessed. I always like to ask people if normally it gets cold here, and usually I get a blank stare... then I ask it again and they understand that time and say what does cold feel like. :) 

As far as the Missionary work:

Christian: He is right on his way to get baptized a week from Saturday! Last Saturday we went over and watched the Thomas S. Monson film with him and he asked if he could keep it so he could share it with his friend! He has now gone a week and a half without smoking and man, that man has  faith.

Family!!: Yes, the Lord blessed us, mercifully with a family!!!! The dad's name is Eric, and he has a daughter (13), a son (12), and a daughter (like 8). He also has another daughter who is older and is with the mom right now. We found them on the last day of the transfer, yesterday with Elder Frandsen. They really are a miracle because we decided about two weeks ago that we wanted to find a family of 4, and so we prayed and then went to work. Then on the last day Elder Frandsen and I were together he blessed us with our goal. Prayer works. They are golden and already all accepted baptism!! The Lord is merciful if we just ask for his help.

Andre: He came to church!! He is just having a problem because he feels like he doesn't have enough faith to be baptized (which is absolutely not the case), and he is worried that he will mess up with one of the commandments after he has been baptized. He is so ready but just needs to understand the Atonement and also make the decision that he will always just strive to be better.

Katia: We are trying to get a RDV with her and will hopefully see her tonight. She is a woman that I contacted on the bus and is open to hearing our message. We have a RDV tonight so hopefully that works out!

I am understanding pretty much everything now and that is really helpful! I have found that the key to be able to speak and understand is to stop thinking about what I am going to say and just listening with my whole brain. It comes so much better that way and I understand a lot more!

Some things I ate this week that were really good were Raclette and caviar (oh wait, not, that was disgusting!) For Raclette, you take potatoes, boil them, and then melt Raclette, which is a kind of cheese, and pour it over the potatoes. Then you put grilled meat on it too! You get to make it with this special grill thing that melts the cheese!

I love the Gospel and I love Toulon!



Elder Pettingill

The invisible bench

Pictures of the Toulon Cathedral

Monday, October 28, 2013

A busy life is a happy life :) (Katie Mulhouse)

Salut tout le monde (Hello everybody)!

What. A. Week. Looking back at my planner (which is what I usually do in order to remember what actually happened) I'm realizing that this past week was definitely the busiest we've been. We are SO blessed! I am absolutely loving it, too. French is coming! That was the weirdest thing about our craaaaazy day yesterday. I could understand! And I even translated into English for one of our amis (investigators) who doesn't speak French :) Yep. Sr. Hafen says she's so proud of me. :)

Okay let me tell you why I'm saying we've been especially blessed this week. We have had a few lessons with Xhoana and keep praying for them to find a house because they can't be baptized until all of their material needs are taken care of. They have their legality stuff on November 7th, then the city will pay for something for them I think. And they already have so much faith! I would like to encourage us all to be more Christlike. And if you think you're pretty much already there, I would like to be lovingly bold and tell you, no. Work harder. This family! Oh my goodness! They eat once a day. They never complain. They pray and read the LdM (French acronym for Book of Mormon) and drink in the information like it's the water they need. Ardian, the husband, peeled an orange while waiting with us for the tram after church yesterday. He speaks no English or French. And do you know what he did? Do you know what this homeless, humble, kind man did? He offered his orange to us. I teared up right then and there because of the incredible example this family is to me! Even though it's impossible for them to find somewhere to sleep right now, I know God is blessing them with good weather. People tell us that this winter is supposed to be the coldest they've had in years, but it's been sunny and beautiful all week. Not even cold at night or in the mornings. And I know that that is a tender mercy for them from Heavenly Father.

Another miracle happened this week. Prayers WORK. Remember Mirjana? Yeah so she called us Friday night. SHE called US. Sr. Hafen told me that never once in all the years she's been taught has she called the missionaries. They have always called her. And when we didn't call her back right away, she called again. So we were able to see her the next day and we went over there and she told us she doesn't want to stop. She thought about it, and she decided that trying to figure out her problems by herself was pointless. She needed us more than ever at this time in her life, and she wants to continue to prepare to be baptized. She and her husband and Lyon. And they came to church. The whole family came to church! Second hour, Sr. Hafen and I were teaching two families about the Plan du Salut (Plan of Salvation). How cool is that?? We met with them again on Sunday night, and we set a new date. November 30th. Then we taught them the Restoration, and it just clicked for Mirjana. She never really understood before that this is God's true church on the earth right now, and she's been taught the retab countless of times. But when we taught her about the Apostasie, it clicked! And she almost jumped up she was so excited! I'm so happy for her and her family :)

We also had our last district meeting of the mutation (transfer) this week which means district picture!! Here we are!

Elder Piere (one of the other Elders) has a really good one; sorry mine is kinda crazy...It was so fun. I'll try to get the pictures from him so you can see! There was this awesome castle we saw that is right smack in the middle of Belfort (where we went for the meeting) that I didn't take any pictures of with my camera unfortunately. But it was so fun! Usually our meetings are in Mulhouse, but we had to go to Belfort for some reason. I don't know.

Some pictures I found on the internet of the Belfort Castle
There's literally almost too much this week to tell you everything. We taught a lot of lessons. Met a lot of awesome people. Maybe this week we'll be able to teach a French family that a family in the ward brought to church...:) Ah it's incredible how blessed the work here is! And the Elders in Mulhouse have a baptism the 8th of November. They met him in the street and now, 3 weeks later, he is already ready to be baptized. He is so kind and humble, but I know he will face a lot of opposition after this, so pray for him! His name is Patrick :) 

Let's see...as far as food I've tried this week, I tried a tartelette citron one day--oh my goodness. It is so good.

Like, better than lemon maringue pie, and you guys know how much I love that. Also, and Mom this is more for you, but we had a mangezvous (dinner appointment) at a member's house and they had made lasagna with ham. And it was SO good...it made it kind of sweet...I don't know. It was weird. But I really really liked it :) So, maybe experiment a little? She just put ham in between the noodles instead of ground beef. 

I love you all! Being a missionary is the best! Also, I've heard the best place to spend Christmas is in Mulhouse because of all the food and decorations (it's the Alsacian culture), so I'll make sure to take a lot of pictures! 

à la prochaine (until next time),

Sœur Pettingill

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thoughts on being a missionary (Katie Mulhouse)

Katie sent a letter in the mail this week and had such great, motivating thoughts on doing missionary work that I decided to type part of it up for the blog.

Any cool missionary experiences lately? One of the girls in our ward brought a friend to church on Sunday. Hopefully we will be able to start teaching her! She’s super, duper cute.  For my 12 week program, Sr. Hafen and I watched a District video last night about working with members and one thing that stuck out to me was something the member said, “A lot of us really want to share the Gospel!  I mean, we love the Church and the blessings we've received from it. We just don’t know how.” So, here is my missionary tip for the day—

1. Be personal—talk about you and how you’ve been blessed.
2.  Testify!—What do you know? I know that with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I can be with my family forever.
3.  Ask an inspired question—It’s called a Question of the Soul. Do you believe in life after this one?
4.  INVITE—this is so important! This gives them the opportunity to act. We’re having a special meeting about families at church this Sunday. Would you like to come with us?

That list has helped me so much when contacting. People really respond.  I love thinking about (well, me and Soeur Hafen do) before this life when all of us were together, receiving our call to Earth and some of our best friends found out they wouldn't get to grow up in the Gospel. And they looked at us with tears in their eyes, “Promise you’ll find me. Promise you’ll help me remember.” And we promised.  Some missionaries get stressed out thinking “What if I don’t find them all?” For me, I feel a calm, peaceful feeling telling me that each and every person is one of my beloved brothers and sisters and it makes me love them all so much.

The cool thing is the Lord is on our side. One of my favorite scriptures right now is Ether 3:5 “Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou are able to show forth great power.“ I literally see his hand in everything  I do . Sometimes, especially when I bear my testimony , I can literally feel the power of the Gift of Tongues helping me with my French. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

My life: Croissants and the Tour Eiffel (Katie Mulhouse)

Salut ma belle famille (Hi my beautifull family)!

How goes it? I think I might have said this in the letter I just wrote to Mom, but I still think it's so weird that life back home still just goes on without me...I feel like time should have stopped while I'm here in this strange place with people who DON'T speak the same language as me. But it doesn't. It just goes on...but it sounds like you had quite the week! Time flies as a missionary. These weeks have gone by faster even than college, and I wasn't sure that was even possible. But here's my little random fact for the week: People (not sure who) have apparently done the calculations, and every six weeks an équipe spends together is equivalent to 7 months for a newly wed couple. So let's just say that we get to know each other very well, very fast :) 

Let's start with the super awesome stuff this week! WE WENT TO PARIS. I had legality (appointment to become legal living in France) with all of the other bleus (new missionaries) on Tuesday at 9:30, so we went up Monday because the train ride was too long to make it on time on Tuesday. Yes, we saw the Tour Eiffel. A little funny story though: It's Monday. We've had a great p-day, done some contacting, feeling good. We rush home to pack and grab some yummy pretzel bread (a specialty here) pb and j sandwiches and a apple and head out the door. We take the tram to the gare (train station) (a good 15 minute ride), feeling good! We have like 15 minutes to spare! Sœur Hafen looks through her bag for the ticket and...oh no...where's the ticket?? We cannot find it. We think back to where it would be, but she KNOWS that she put it in her bag. We say a prayer. Then we remember: we were contacting this nice lady with 3 crazy girls, 2 of them were in a stroller. One of the little girls, maybe 3 years old, was playing with Sr. Hafen's bag, unzipping it and zipping it. A vague memory of a baby folding and unfolding a train ticket comes to our minds. The baby stole it. We call the mom--it's not with her. We look for an hour and half around trams and stations and whatnot--it's not anywhere. Thankfully (TENDER MERCY) the Elders from Belfort were coming in for exchanges with our Elders in under an hour and they just happen to have a bluecard (mission credit card). So we caught a late train and didn't get into Paris until like 10:15 that night. Everything worked out, and now we just laugh: we got our ticket stolen by a baby! Oh the danger of Mulhouse ; )

Us being bummed because we got our tickets 'stolen'

Then we went and saw the Tour Eiffel...and it is absolutely beautiful. (We saw it the next morning as you'll notice in the picture.) It's HUUUUUGE and very...metal. Haha :) Then, before legality, we went to this amazing pâtisserie shop and got these crêpes aux nutella--absolutely heavenly! And we shared an escargot (that just means it's in the shape of a snail) chocolat pistache. Oh my goodness. I love France :)

Eiffel Tower!
Nutella crepes
Escargot chocolat pistache

Legality was...good. Talked to this lady who told me my French was incredible! So that was fun! And later that night we had a French Panini and Nutella Crêpe for dinner and then...a little miracle happened. But let me tell you about our amis first!

Our amis...Xhoana and her family came to church again yesterday! What a humble, spiritually-prepared family. Everything we tell them they accept without blinking. And it's not because they'll just believe everything we tell them, it's because it makes sense to them! Like duh God called another prophet. Why wouldn't He? I love them so much! They are going to be baptized I just know it. They love this gospel already and are reading the LdM every night and praying together and everything. Mirjana and Nijas...I had my heart broken for the first time as a missionary yesterday. We joke all the time that being a missionary is like being in a relationship with a bunch of different people--we wait anxiously for their texts, cry when they hurt, jump for joy when they're happy. And yesterday, Mirjana told us she can't do it. She doesn't want it. Her husband is not changing. He has the desire, but not enough motivation. She wants to take a break for one week to try to figure everything out, and then she's going to call us again. I fall in love with every single one of these people, and when she told me on the phone that she doesn't want it, when I heard the pain of her giving up in her voice...my heart shattered. It was hard, but we brought a member who speaks English and German with us to her house and we ended everything on a good note. She even said she isn't going to stop reading the LdM or praying, she just needs to clear her head. And I'm glad that she isn't taking a break from God, just us :) You remember Elodie and Giovanni?? They like totally dropped off of the face of the planet for 2 weeks. Didn't show up for our rendezvous and wouldn't answer our calls or text us back. But (TENDER MERCY) we ran into them in the street on Saturday! And they said we could have a Soirée Familiale (Family Home Evening) with them this next week. And we're bringing a member. I am so happy!!

In Paris on Tuesday night (we missed our train again because all of the metros were backed up because someone committed suicide on the tracks and so we had to stay another night), there is a piano in the middle of the gare, and so we started singing cantiques (hymns)! Sr. Hafen played, and me and Elders Toledo and Lewis sang. People came and listened! And one girl, her name is Céline, listened for a long time. She asked who we were...we of course told her...and then we asked her if she likes to sing. So she sang cantiques with us for like 30 minutes! The Elders left, so by then it was just me and her singing! And after one of the songs she turned to me and said, "I feel SO happy right now. What is that?" So I told her it's the Spirit of God telling her that God loves her. How cool is that? After we were done singing she asked if she could give us her address and phone number and wanted to meet our friends who are in Paris and it was incredible! She told us several times that God meant for us to meet tonight. Just a little miracle :) (Here is a youtube video that shows someone playing the piano in one of the train stations in Paris.)

It's getting COOOOLDERRRR. This is the coldest part of France, I don't know if I told you that or not. And people keep telling us (along with "faites attention" [pay attention] at night) that this is going to be the coldest winter Mulhouse has had in 100 years. Just for me :) We're doing okay now, but later today we're having a member take us to find some nice warm coats. So that'll be good. Another thing I've noticed is sometimes I forget I'm in a 1st world country. This week alone, I have met 3 FAMILIES who have no where to live right now; people who's husbands or children have died; 10 people who can't find a job who have families; a girl who can't have children and cries every night because of it. Can I just tell you--I am so thankful to have two parents who love each other, a warm house to live in, a dad with a good job, and a healthy body. Being a missionary really puts life into perspective. Always remember to "cry thanks unto God always." 

Je vous aime beaucoup! Je sais que cet évangile est l'évangile de Jésus-Christ. Ma famille est la meilleure! Bon courage avec les jeux au foot et au basket, les enfants! Et n'oubliez jamais que vous avez un père célèste que vous aime sans fin. (I love you a lot! I know that this Gospel is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  My family is the best! Good luck with soccer and basketball games, children! And never forget that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you without end.)

à la prochaine (until next time),
Sœur Pettingill
Us being SO TIRED at 6 in the morning on the train

Elder Lewis with the glasses (he came in with me), Elder Toledo, Sr. Hafen, et moi. 

A picture I took of the view from where we were porting.  This is noot actually in Mulhouse but right outside of it in a little ville called Brunstatt. 

Making connections and doing exchanges (Jacob Toulon)

Dear Family,

This week has been pretty amazing! We have seen quite a few tender mercies from God and and then lots of miracles on the side! 1st off, to tell you a little bit of what Elder Frandsen said about Montauban (my last area of my mission where he also served). They have a nice branch there that is doing well and they have a nice building that they attend. (I assume that means they are no longer in a room by the Elder's apartment and that Elder Frandsen has no idea about the really yummy cookies sold right next to the church) Elder Frandsen said that Soeur Von Tonder still dresses the same as in the pictures Mom sent so that is funny!

He also laughed at seeing the family and recongnized them all. So now you know that! 

As far as fun things that happened this week, I went on my second exchange with someone younger than me! Elder Miner, who is the District leaders companion in Cannes.

I went there and had a great exchange! It is awesome to have to think for yourself and figure things out which often Elder Frandsen does. We taught a couple lessons with their amis (investigators) and it was super cool. Also we had fish eggs that night so that was.... yummy.... or not. I decided that fish is not my thing and I will stick to other stuff. Yesterday I had a miracle when I was on the bus just driving around. I contacted this lady and she basically just handed over her phone number and fixed a rdv (appointment). Also Christian, our ami who has a date for the 9th of nov, is now 4 days strong in quitting smoking! So awesome! He has so much faith and we had some cool experiences with him... like the fact that he came early to church just so he could drive with us! Tonight he is coming to Frere Sassis for an FHE! We will be teaching the Plan of Salut (Plan of Salvation)! That plus food can never be bad! He is so solid and is ready for baptism! I love the gospel! I love french and have now been trying work on my vocabulary. Last week I learned all the body part like arm, leg, toes, articulation, etc. Very awesome trying to use those in contacts :)

Well sorry this isn't very long!

I will try to get some pics off this week.

Love, Elder Pettingill

P.S. We went into a cathedral today. It is so intricate!! But also kind of like Idol worship... I will send pics!!

 Pictures of the interior of Toulon Cathedral I found online as an example of what they visited

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lots of teaching (Jacob Toulon)

Dear Family!

This week has been a fun one and I have really loved it. The missionary work is seriously moving forward here and we were able to teach 15 lessons this week! The members helped us with a lot of them and we had 8 of those lessons with a member!! It is amazing the difference of the lesson when there is a member present. It really helps the ami progress so well and begin to be integrated into the church at the same time!! 

We were also able to set two dates for baptism this week too which was amazing to see our amis showing faith and progressing toward making that awesome alliance with Heavenly Father. Andre was one of those and we gave him (for the second time) a date for the 30 of November! He has so much faith, and the thing that has been holding him back is just our ability to see him! The other was our voisin (neighbor) Christian who is seriously GOLDEN! He has a date for the 9th of November! He is so faithful in doing what we ask him and it really has helped him to progress quickly! He reads, prays, and comes to church! He has such a sincere desire. We had an amazing lesson on Wednesday with one of the Ward missionaries who is our same age and just got baptized a couple years ago. She was able to share her experience (after Christian made the wrong choice of asking how she came into the church) and it was literally perfect for his needs. The spirit was strong.

Our other amis include an African man and his son who's names are Bruno and Ryad (the son). They just need the faith to keep their commitments, but they are so nice and love having us come over. Then we have a mother and daughter named Sabine and Marie, who hurt her ears in an music accident at school. They have not been able to come to church because of the Marie's ears, but now she is really getting better and should be able to come to church this week! Then we have Rodolf. He has grown so much and every time we go to teach him, I think he share more faith building stories that help me than we help him. He is ready to be baptized and has already expressed his huge desire to be baptized, but he just has to wait for his divorce papers to go through (They take forever here in FRANCE!,but they should be good by the end of December and then in the water he goes. :) His "to be wife" is already a member and her son from the other marriage is not baptized so we are teaching him too. His name is Josue (Jos-way). He has a desire to be baptized (his face lit up when we showed him a picture of Elder Frandsen's baptism. The hard thing for him is that he is basically living two lives that are telling him the exact opposite thing to do. We can only see him once every two weeks because he his with his Dad every other and has school and tennis and piano! (He his a pretty talented 12 year old!) So those are our amis!! 

As far a Marie, who we were teaching with Andre, is that she said she doesn't really have a desire. She loves us as people and we are really good friends. She was also having a bad influence on Andre because of this and so we separated them and are going to teach her every once in a while. She just needs a little time, and some faith :) SO those are our amis!! They are all so amazing and really make me so happy every time I see them! The Lord has been blessing us so much here in Toulon and I hope I can continue to serve here for little bit longer!

As far as where you have served mom, I have got some good news! Elder Frandsen served there!! (in Montauban, my last area) The Von Tonder Family is still there and going strong!! Also super cool, Jean Paul in now in Aix-en-Provence, and I met him at the Stake conference last transfer!! He is married and had two or three cute daughters around Anna's age! So that is pretty cool and it is too bad we didn't have the chance to make that connection when I was there!

Other things I did this week included a Zone conference!!It was a three zone one and we went to Aix-en-Provence.

It was great, and President and Sister Rony spoke! We just focused on how sharing the Gospel doesn't have to be hard!! It is something that should be natural and also that as missionaries we should focus more on having conversations rather that just contacts. It is so important to become these peoples friend and love them, then to INVITE them to be as happy as we are. I have really been trying to work on making each contact special and loving. Sometimes it is easy to get into the attitude of contacting EVERYONE!!! and you lose focus on the fact that you are actually talking to someone. So some of the things that play into becoming better is listening, caring, INVITING, testifying, listening a little more and then just being their friend. These are a children of GOD and are sooooo important. But if we leave them with nothing else after a contact, we should at least leave them with a... card, or a friend too.

As far as things I have eaten this week. Yesterday was a goodbye repas (meal) for our old bishop (who is going on a mission to Italy with his wife). I ate this little kebab thing on a stick that had fish (maybe salmon or something, but it was a little shiny and looked like scales) and it made me decide I don't like fish... Also there was some yummy ( I taught a french guy the word Yummy yesterday during the repas) mille feuille again!! There were a ton of weird cheeses that I didn't try, but wish I had! After it was over the paroisse (ward) basically just handed us all the rest of the food, several large bags...( including a full leftover Chocolate cake....there was a lot of food...) So that was great!

Lastly, thanks for the package! I got it today and the envelope seemed to work fine! Also could you maybe send me a picture of my baptism? If we have one? And also a picture of our big van?  I am sorry I didn't send you an SD card last week and will try to start taking more pictures and videos to give you more things to see and what not :)

I love you all!!

Elder Pettingill  

A week filled with butterflies and candy (Katie Mulhouse)

Hey Dad and Mom and Famille!

Can I just say...I love you all so. much. Everyday I'm here, meeting new families and teaching old ones, I feel so appreciative of my family. Of our warm home, of my dad's good job, of the food in our refrigerator, of the warm beds we have to sleep on...just all of it. So grateful.

Okay, now about my week. I'll start with our amis. Thank you thank you thank you for all of your prayers for Mirjana and her husband!! A miracle happened in his heart. We went and met with them a few days ago, and he came home in the middle of our lesson and told us (through translation since he doesn't speak French or English) that he wants to be a better person and become closer to God. We invited them to be baptized and they said absolutely! Their son, Leon, is 9 and so he is going to be baptized as well. November 9th. And we're seeing them 3 times a week starting tomorrow until then! So keep praying for them! Their names are Mirjana, Nijas (nee-yuss), Leon, and Tommy. I love them so much.

We also met this beautiful family this week on the bus! They're Albanian, and the mom speaks just a little bit of English. Her name is Xhoana (Joanna) and her husband's name is Ardian and they have his sister with them who is Angela, and their little 2 year old son is name Yaanel (yah-nail). Their story is kind of sad...we're not sure why they left Albania, but when we met them we talked to them about the LdM and said we could give it to them in their language. We met up a different day and taught Xhoana on the street about this beautiful book. We asked where they live and she said they don't have a house right now, and so they sleep in the park. Malheureusement (Unfortunately), as missionaries we aren't allowed to help them at all (like give them money and stuff). But that's when we invited her to church to learn more about Christ. AND THEY CAME. They were our only investigators at church (Mirjana and her family couldn't come because they were taking Nijas's sister to the train station or something) and it was very...interesting. It was perfect. But it was funny because Elder Johnson led the lesson (here we have a class taught just for investigators) and it was all in English but we had to stop every now and then and wait for Xhoana to translate to her family. We taught them about how much God and Jesus love them, and the dad told us (through translation of course) that we are a miracle for them. I like started crying, no joke (big surprise, am I right?). Pray for them!

I also had my first exchanges this week! Mom, you remember all of the blogs you love reading? Remember Sœur Johns (who was in the MTC with Sr. Hafen)? I had an exchange (they came here because it's like a 3 hour train ride, so we switch off villes instead of actually exchanging) with Sr. Garrett! I'll send a picture. It was awesome. I love exchanges. I absolutely love Sr. Hafen, but it's fun to see how different each missionary is and I learned a lot from her. She's super cute and funny and can speak French! I'm always amazed when the missionaries here can actually speak French. Like, that's going to be me someday. Crazy, right? We taught a lesson to one of our amis--Lavinia. She has two kids, a little baby named Ricardo and a little daughter named Roxanna (they're Romanian). We're not sure if she's actually going to keep progressing since she didn't come to church on Sunday, but pray that she'll realize the importance of this gospel. I love her. And I didn't even get lost on the way! You know how awful I am about finding my way around places, and I had to lead since we stayed in Mulhouse. BUT the Lord was with me, as He always is. So great. We also talked to a couple of Témoins Jehovahs (Jehovah Witnesses) (not missionaries, but actual members) which was interesting! Everyone always thinks that's who we are. And we're like, no. We're not. It's a great life :)

At District Meeting this week, we always have lunch afterwards, and we were in charge of bringing the main course. So, we made this mexican type thing that goes over rice (it was kind of like the taco soup that you make, Mom) and it was SO GOOD. But also, for dessert the Elders made this banana pudding pie thing with a speculos crumble crust! Speculos is huge here. Everyone's like, have you tried speculos yet?? And I'm like, nope. But I have now! And it's super good. It basically tastes like crushed up cinnamon teddy grahams. It's super good. That meal was heavenly...and the STLs got to be there for it! We had 4 extra people at that meeting. I still haven't had a normal district meeting. Ah well, next week peut-être? :)

 A picture of our district, plus the STLs and the Zls

Also, Sr. Hafen's friend from St. Quentin, Marie, sent her a package for her birthday with so much candy!!! And then we got the package from Mom...so much candy!! It's been the best. En faite, we checked the mail right after we started our fast on Saturday, so we didn't get to eat any of it until after church on Sunday. We fast for 24 full hours, starting it right after lunch on Saturday until the Ward Repas on Sunday. Which was amazing, by the way. We had like 4 different kinds of tartes (the French replacement of pie and I love it) and I kind of ate 5 pieces...I was just so hungry!! Like seriously I'm hungry 100% of the time right now! Sr. Hafen makes fun of me all the time for it. But that's okay...I definitely have Mom's genes, that's for sure! (I was always starving on my mission from riding bikes everywhere.)

Okay, I have one last funny story for you all. You'd be surprised by how many times people think we're offering to give them massages. Here we are, contacting random people on the street, and they think we're offering massages! You might ask, why on earth would they think that? This is what we sometimes say, "Bonjour! Je m'appelle Sœur Pettingill et moi et ma collègue venons des Etats-Unis et nous avons un message pour vous de Dieu."  (Hello! My name is Sister Pettigill and me and my collegue come from the United States and we have a message for you from God. Message and massage are just slightly different sounds, like in English.) Wait, like what? A massage? From God? What? Yeah, it's a little awkward. But usually the conversation ends well! Except one time this lady just kept saying, " No, my doctor massages my feet. It's okay!" And she wouldn't listen to what we were saying. She just stormed off! We laughed all the way home.

Well, my time is up. I love see pictures of everyone! Keep 'em coming. And remember Ether 3:5 - "Voici, Oh Seigneur, tu peux le faire. Nous savons que tu es capable de montrer une grande puissance." (Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou are able to show forth great power.) J'ai un temoignage de cet Evangile. Et j'aime être missionaire. (I have a testimony of this Gospel.  And I love being a missionary.)

A la prochaine!

Sœur Pettingill

 One of the Halloween things received in this week's package
 Soeur Hafen's birthday mille feuilles, regular and Napoleon. They were both amazing!
 The creperie place we ate at for the birthday last week. Isn't it cute?  Super yummy!
Super cute little house we found while porting.  I HAD to take a picture of it!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week 3 in Mulhouse (Katie)

Dad and family!

Wow what a week you guys have had! It sounds like you had tons of fun! Sr. Hafen has sisters the same ages as my brothers, wink wink! ;) She has a brother that's 18, but after that sisters who are 16, 14, 12, 10, and 8. Her family is so stinkin cute. And so is mine! The things you send me, Mom and Dad, are so inspired I cry. Like all the time. Not because I'm homesick, but because I feel the Spirit SO strongly when I read your letters/emails and pretty much every second of my life right now. I love it. And conference sounded so fun!

We're about to go to a Creperie here in town for Sr. Hafen's birthday...ah the joys of France.... It's weird because everything is so different here...like public bathrooms. They don't have public bathrooms. They also don't have drinking fountains. Weird, right?

Anyway, about my French. Oh my goodness le Don des Langues (Gift of Tongues) is real. I haven't even been here for 3 whole weeks and I don't even get headaches anymore. I can understand probably...95% of the French. At DMP meeting the other night I literally finally felt like I could be a part of the conversation because I understood everything! My grammar needs help and my vocab needs help, but I feel the Spirit translating this ridiculously hard language everywhere I go. And it really is amazing because when we're teaching lessons, and I don't have the words to say what I want to say, it's okay. Because when it comes time for me to testify, I have the words. Every time it surprises me the words that come out of my mouth, words that I didn't even know I knew. People tell me all the time, "Oh, wow, your French is fabulous! Only 3 weeks, really? You are such a fast learner!" But the thing is, it's not me. Not even. The church is true, guys. :) We also taught my very first street lesson this week! To a Muslim woman and her son (yeah, en fait, the population of Mulhouse is probably 50% Muslim). Super cool because I actually participated. No more silent companion! ;)

Let me tell you about my amis...they are the BEST. I absolutely love them all. I don't even have  enough time to tell you about all of them, but here are some updates on the ones I think I've already told you about:

Elodie and Giovanni: Wow. I love this family. They already have such a desire to learn and to become closer to God and Christ. And we've only taught them 3 times! We're having a soirée familiale (family home evening) with them tonight and a little birthday celebration for Sr. Hafen and I'm SUPER excited. They are super young. I think they're both 20, and their little daughter Julia is 9 months. :) Also, so funny story, we found out this week that Elodie is Jewish, and we have this Elder from southern France who Sr. Hafen THOUGHT was Jewish before he joined the church and so she called him up to ask him some questions about Jewish beliefs and he was like, "Uhh...I was born in the church...but I taught someone Jewish." and she was like, "YES! That's what I meant." We laughed about it for days. :))))

Mirjana: Mirjana has SUCH a strong testimony. It amazes me every time we meet with her. The only thing holding her back is her husband...she even told us she feels like she's ready to take the next step and be baptized! But she doesn't feel like she can do it without the support from her husband, who drinks and pretty much doesn't believe in God at all. Please pray that his heart will be softened and will be willing to be taught by us. :)

Muslim Family: We taught a Muslim family this week! Technically, we have to get permission from President in order to teach Muslims because it's a danger to their lives, but only if they agree to be taught. This was just like a firs ttime thing (and apparently a onetime thing...). They said they let us come because they don't judge other religions, but will never be willing to change religions. So we're not going to see them anymore...it was weird teaching a family who doesn't believe that Jesus Christ is le fils de Dieu (the son of God). Like that is what our message is about. Like what?

Okay, GENERAL CONFERENCE. I loved it. We were able to have a room all to ourselves and watch it in English (with the Elders from here and from Colmar and Belfort as well). We only got the first 3 sessions because of the time difference. The second Sunday session didn't start until 10pm on Sunday. Hahaha yeah no we can't do that. We're missionaries. But I LOVED it. Every word was so inspired I could hardly take my eyes off of the screen the entire time. I missed the cinnamon rolls...but we bought candy and ate that during the sessions instead. :) We invited probably close to 50 people to conference and guess how many people came! None. But oh well, it takes 6 encounters with the church before someone figures out it's the truth, right? So that's good.

This is so random but I've been thinking about this a lot for some reason. Dad and Beth, you would die here in France--there are cats EVERYWHERE. Everyone has cats. And dogs actually, now that I think about it. We met a lady porting who had 9 dogs. But seriously, there are probably like 10 cats roaming around on every single street. It's crazy weird. And something else slightly bizarre (and also random) is that I got this rash on my wrist one night...I had an allergic reaction to a plastic bag! By the time I figured it out the hive-like things were all the way up both my arms and all over my wrists and hands. Itched so bad. Good thing that's over...:)

Okay, so we had a zone conference in PARIS this week!!!! Isn't that awesome? It was amazing. Les dirigeants de l'église sont très inspirés. (The leaders of the Church are very inspired.) We didn't have any lessons or anything that day because we literally had to leave by 5:30 in the morning and got back at 8:30 that night. But it was incredible. And that is where I got to meet lots of people! I met Sr. Bennion and we talked for a while. Love her. She is absolutely adorable :) (I'm at an internet cafe so I can't send pictures, but next week I will for sure!) I also met Elder Nelson, Jacob's MTC comp! How cool is that? He is super funny and totally knew who I was and recognized me and stuff. This other Elder who I can't remember his name came up to me and was like, "Are you the famous sister?!" He was in the MTC with Jacob as well :) And I met Elder Guymon! Remember, from the wedding reception? He's the one that recognized my name and asked if I knew the Keables. I said yeah, duh. JK, but like really it was such a fun experience! And such a spiritual boost. And such a good French lesson! I didn't even need écouteurs (headphones)! A lot of the new missionaries need them to be able to actually understand what's going on.

I love you all so much. Keep sending pictures!  Keep studying the LdM! Best book in the whole world :) 

à la prochaine! (until next time!)

Sœur Pettingill

Another great week has passed in Toulon (Jacob)

Well, I have decided to stop keeping track of weeks because I think that is what make everything go so fast! Instead I am going to count every second of the day, because it seems like when you are always watching the time it goes by so much slower. SO in order to actually get my full two years worth of REAL missionary work, that is what I am going to do. I am seriously scared that this amazing period of my life is going to slip out of my fingers and I am going to look back and cry a little.

I am literally full right now, but definitely not from food (which I haven't eaten in about 6 hours) but from the spirit. Right now is the time to say "HOLY COW, that was a good conference." I don't think I have ever taken in so much from conference in my life. Every talk I heard (which was all of them) had an application to either me, the work, or my investigators. I feel really bad because I think that Lord told every singe person to write their talk at me and the only thing anyone else got is the Sisters from the Relief Society session. I could probably spend a while on the subject. 

I love the Gospel and am so grateful for the spirit. I have really felt the prinicple that Nephi taught "car lorsqu'un homme parle par le pouvoir du Saint-Esprit, le pouvoir du Saint-Esprit porte ses paroles dans le coeur des enfants des hommes." (For when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost, the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth the words unto the hearts of the children of men 2 Neph 33:1). The spirit testified to me over and over and over the truth of this amazing work! (Even when I got to listen to the Saturday afternoon session in French because we had 4 investigators at the church with us). I love the times when you feel it is so true, because then, when the next day hits and everything falls through, you don't have to doubt your faith, you just doubt your doubt and move on because of your faith. I am also grateful for technology that makes it possible to go back and read all the talks that were given (which, as was stated, were prayed about, fasted about, and even had sleepless nights spent over them in order to bring us what the Lord wants to know [that kind of made me feel bad for past conferences when I didn't listen very well]).

This has been a really amazing week.  We have been blessed so many times by the Lord, it is unreal. One night, after already finding lots of successes with the people that we were talking to, we walked home with about 10 minutes left and decided to stay outside even though we could have justified that the Lord had already blessed us all he needed to for the day and that we had calls to do.  So anyway about 5 minutes before 9, a man walks by with his dog and because Elder Frandsen was doing a call I quickly said "Bonsoir!" (Good evening) So we ended up teaching until about 9:15, set up an RDV for the next day and ended our night!! The Lord blesses those who endure!! The best part was that when we showed up for the RDV (across the street because it turns out it is our neighbor!) he had already read from the introduction through Joseph Smith's testimony! He was well prepared to answer every question we had!  

I know the Lord lives and that He is directing His church right now.  

I love you all!!  

Elder Pettingill

 The pics are of the cleaning check we had!

We got a star for being so clean!