Monday, December 30, 2013

Feting...feting...and more feting! (Celebrating, celebrating and more celebrating!) (Katie-Mulhouse)

Hey family! It's been far too long already. Like not even 5 full days, right? I love it :)
So like, I know you're probably all wondering how many miracles I've seen since Christmas and how wonderful I'm doing and whatnot...but...I think the miracle this week is that I didn't die. Of boredom.

Okay, let me explain. Christmas was AMAZING. We had a delicious dinner made up of frog legs, duck, escargots, buches de noëls, green beans, and other various yummy French foods. Malheureusement (unfortunately), after we got home (after skyping you guys, which was the best EVER by the way), we went to bed yada yada.

frog legs

buche de Noel

The next morning, at approximately 5:15, I woke up feeling super nauseous. Could barely move, and so I didn't...for like 3 hours...until I finally threw up. Okay I don't want to make it seem worse than it sounds, but yes I have indeed been stuck inside for the 3 full days after Christmas with the stomach flu. Luckily Sr. Gordon escaped it, but apparently there is a breakout of the stomach flu across France. The same morning we called out health lady, she was dealing with 14 other cases of other missionaries as well. So...that was fun! I've really just had a lot of time to sleep, and to think about why I'm here as a missionary. That first day with the flu was awful. I felt so sick it was terrible, but it was comforting to know that there was one person who at that moment knew exactly how I was feeling, and that was my Savior, Jesus Christ. I have such a strong testimony of this Gospel. It was hard to be a missionary and to be stuck INSIDE, too tired to do anything but sleep, but it is so amazing to know that I AM a missionary. And I'm a missionary because I love this Gospel and I want more than anything to share it with these people of France that I love so much!!

It's been kind of a slow start with Sr. Gordon. We've had lots of fêtes (parties, celebrations) and none of our amis have wanted to see us during the fêtes (holidays). And then I got the flu. And now it's still fêtes (holidays). Christmas contacting is amazing, but this sure is a good time to have faith that there are people waiting for us to find them who are SO ready for this gospel. It's super weird because next week is week 4 of the transfer (DEJA!!!!!!!! ALREADY) and we're fiiiiinally having our first district meeting of the transfer on Thursday. Oh being a missionary is great.

Our focus this week is on finding, and 3 of our amis: Ardian, who wasn't at church again and my heart is just ACHING for that man...and also Yasmina and Renato, a young family related to Mirjana (speaking of Mirjana, here's a random update--we also had exchanges this week, not really me but it was nice for Sr. Gordon to be able to get out of the house, and they went and visited Mirjana and she said their New Year's resolution is to quit smoking...TOGETHER. She said she would call us, hahaha). Anyways, the hard part is getting them to church, and also pray that we can find a LdM (Book of Mormon) in their language because they can't really read French. And also Anthony and his family. I think I've told you a little bit about them...they are Indian and they left their country in order to come here because they are Christian. They are AMAZING. His wife is really sick though, so pray for her.

Anyways, I'm sorry I can't send you any pics, this computer doesn't have a usb port thing. Next week for sure!!

Anyways, this week is extremely important. It's the nouvel an (new year)! And I encourage each of you, while making new years resolutions, to think of how you can grow to become more like Christ. There are only two verses in the bible that talk about Jesus growing up, and one of them is Luke 2:52, "And he grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with man." (not a direct quote) I encourage you to think about New Year's resolutions that can help you grow as Christ grew, "in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with man." Have fun interpreting that scripture; Jesus had a good sense of humor I know it, so your goals don't all have to be like, read my scriptures! Have fun with it! (Not that scripture reading isn't important...) :) My goal as a missionary is to become plus semblable au Christ (more like Christ). So I might as well help my family too, right?! Love you guys! Stay strong!

Avec amour (with love),

Sœur Pettingill

Aftermath (Jacob-Brive)

Well I can now tell you that I have experienced French culture. After 6 meals with members and 5 buches de Noel (Yule logs) and so much food I feel very fat. Thank goodness Elder Adamson decided he wasn't sick anymore and lovingly went running with me this morning! A list of the things eaten this week: a super yummy potato casserole called au gratin (basically super good), 6 types of cheese including rochefort (which is actually very much illegal in the US) and others that are from the region, oyster (huitre) (tastes like drinking ocean), SOOOO much foie gras (translation: fatty liver), crevette, this large shrimp like thing that we had to cut the head off in order to eat, tons of salmon on bread. I also cracked my first nut with a nutcracker (except it wasn't shaped like a soldier, but just a wrench like thing), lamb (soo good!), cow cheek!, normal roast beef, escargot! (Yum), this dish thing that had what I am pretty sure was squid... a quiche that had like 10 different types of sea creatures in it, oh yeah and round two of fish eggs (it was a lot better the second time), a super super spicy dish with meat imported from Madagascar, and some yummy salads.

As far a missionary work goes. We watched Hastening the Work again this week and it was even better the second time! I love the amazing revelation that we get from our leaders! Member missionary work is so important and is the way that we need to be doing missionary work. They gave the responsibility to the members to work in unity with the missionaries and to move towards everyone we meet to befriend them and then to help them receive the many blessing we have!!

I love the gospel and wish that everyone could understand that

Love Elder Pettingill
(Sorry it was short... it took a long time to remember all the food...

salmon on bread


cow cheek

crevettes (shrimp) served with the head and shell intact

pate de foie gras


Rochefort (Roquefort) cheese

 Buche de Noel

Monday, December 23, 2013

Joyeuse Fete! (Jacob-Brive)

Oh man this week was a good one! Sorry for not sending any photos or anything. It has been busy and is only harder with 4 elders in the apartment because then any extra time gets lost in the distracted time! But I will get on the sd cards and get them off today with some joyeux (happy) photos! 

I will probably keep this somewhat short because we'll have the hour to talk on Wednesday so I don't want to tell you everything. All I can say is that we have been seeing a lot of progress here in Brive. We are still trying to get some regular amis and with Christmas it has been hard to see the people with whom we have talked. We have seen a ton of miracles with people while doing porte a porte (tracting) and so that was super great! We have taught several lessons this week while doing that. Yesterday we were let in by a high school age boy who was interested! We got to let him feel the Spirit and give him the greatest gift he could want for Noel. A Book of Mormon! I don't think I really understood the importance of the Book of Mormon until this week. Because of the Book of Mormon and the testimony that comes with it, we can KNOW that Christ really lived, that he REALLY did suffer and die for us. We know that our relationship with God is so important that He didn't just leave us to find for ourselves but he showed us everything we need to do to be happy. I am so grateful for The Book of Mormon and for the love God has for us. I think one of the ways to really feel the love that God has for us is to be the intermédiaire of that love. It is such an amazing feeling to be able to look someone in the eye and tell them that with all your heart that God loves them and that He has a plan for us and that He sent His son FOR us. I have had that opportunity more and more here in Brive as there are more Atheists rather than non-practicing catholics. 

We have been really pushing an English class here in Brive so in order to do that we drew up a nice little street board to catch attention... I think you will like it.

The joke for those who know nothing about French culture is that in every English class here in France the first thing that they learn is Where is Brian? And the answer is always "in the kitchen".. So if you ever ask a french person where Brian is, they will know the answer. The English class really worked and we got 12 numbers to send "RAPPELS" (reminders) and then had 3 people show up!!! So awesome! They all stayed for the spiritual though afterwards too!! So great! 

I love the Gospel and this morning we were cordially invited to the Young Men annual planning activity where we got to talk a little about Preach My Gospel. We were able to have a shot at these young men's heads to help them understand the importance of the gospel! If there is anything I could invite someone to do who wanted to understand the gospel or be more happy, it is to serve a mission. There really is nothing like it. And Preach my Gospel really should be the book everyone uses for any type of scripture study. It is the book for success.

I love you all so much and hope that you feel A TON OF CHRIST's love right now because I KNOW he loves you.

Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas)

Elder Pettingill
 Elder Pettingill received his Christmas packages!

Joyeux Noel et Bonnes Fetes! (Katie-Mulhouse)

Dearest family of all families:

The great thing about being a missionary is you are always in a good mood to write your family because you just miss them so much!! I'm glad you got my package!! It's nothing too special, but I wanted to send you all a little surprise for Christmas to say thank you for all of the support and love and letters I get :) Mom, your display looks beautiful! I bet everything went perfectly and looked beautiful and just was great. Which means that you can totally do anything without my help and STILL make it look incredible ;) That's one thing we won't have time to do! Make sugar cookies! But I would like to let you all know that we're still making cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve. I mean, it's a tradition!! 

And I'll let you know about everything else we did either when we in person but through a computer...or in my email next week :) I'm SO EXCITED to get to see you all! I love you guys :) As far as this week has gone, it's been a good week. We went to Paris on Wednesday for a special Christmas Conference (that's where we got the letters you sent). It was actually Tuesday night. We went and stayed with the St. Ouen soeurs and then all met up to go to the conference the next morning in VERSAILLES! Elder Allen is in his 7th transfer and he had never been to the Versailles chapel before. So like, this is a rare thing. And we found out that we went there instead of St. Merri because there were 5 zones that went!! That's a lot. Usually it's only 3, maaaayybe 4. And it was amazing. Mom, remember those four steps to contacting I sent you in a letter? We talked about those again, but changed it from Alma Contacting to Christmas Contacting! Basically our goal is to sing des chants de Noël (Christmas carols) with anyone willing to listen! Whether it's contacting or porting or anything. It's kind of like caroling, which is totally an American truc (thing). So that has been amazing. I will tell you our experience with that later :) Versailles is AMAZING!! It's so beautiful. The chapel is a lot bigger than the one in St. Merri, too. I'm sorry I slacked on taking any pictures...that was dumb. And I got to see a lot of people, like Elder Bailey from the MTC! He's in Charleroi, Belgium, where Sr. Gordon just came from. It was a fun day. A hard day for proselyting though...we didn't even get back to Mulhouse until after 9 that night...but that's okay. :)

 At the Versailles Chapel for Zone Conference
  Practicing "Christmas Contacting"
 Reading the surprise Christmas letter the mission asked families to send their missionaries

So yesterday we decided to go porting (tracting) for a little while in this adorable, toootally Alsacian neighborhood (I wanted to take a picture of the houses, but it was kind of creepy because there were people places...) and we had an hour and a half. First we visited this coordonnée (address) we got from this lady we met on the street a couple of months ago...we've tried contacting her a plusieurs fois (several times) but finally she answered! And she let us in. And we sang to her and her three children and prayed with them and she said we could come back after the fêtes (holidays)! So that was a little miracle in of itself. And THEN we had about an hour to go porte these adorable houses. We knocked about 15 doors. Probably half weren't home. We talked to about 7 people at their doors and 3 (yes THREE) let us in. That is incredible. We can porte for hours and only have one person let us in, if that. Christmas time is magical, and even if none of those people are baptized, we still helped them to feel the Christmas spirit through our chants de Noël. And the Spirit WAS there and it was so strong. I know the Lord is with us. His hand is in this work, especially while we are celebrating the time of His birth. 

It's been kind of hard this week...we don't have any progressing amis (investigators) and only had one ami come to church with Xhoana. Ardian didn't even come and he isn't willing to keep reading even though he says he wants to know. But what an incredible opportunity we have been given to FIND.

I love this gospel. People are so open right now, and even though we don't have many progressing amis right now, what a better time than now to go out and talk to EVERYONE about His birth?!?! I love it. And it works especially well right now :) 

I love you all so much!! I'm super excited to get to talk to you in less than 2 DAYS!! 

Talk to you later!
Sœur Pettingill

P.S. One of mine and Sr. Gordon's transfer goals is to try one weird food each week. This week we tried what's called a lichi (?) fruit. They're weird...but strangely tasty. Like grapes with huge seeds in the middle and they are all spiky on the outside. Yeah. Kbye :)

This creche (nativity) is in the church. It's beautiful.
 This is a giant mistletoe they hung. I've seriously almost stabbed my eye out like a hundred times...; )
 Us eating dinner...yumm!
 Our DMP (Ward Mission Leader) with Janeel. Adorable. : )
 The ward gave us food for a Christmas present.  They are too good to us. I love them so much.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The joy of Mulhouse at Christmas time... (Katie-Mulhouse)

Bonjour famille!

Ah! I don't even know where to start. I feel like I'm writing in my journal or something...haha. :) What. A. Week!! The last two days before Sr. Hafen left were craaaaaaazyyyyy! We had 3 mangezvous (dinner appointments) and lots of stress! Well, she did. I was mostly just freaking out nervous because I didn't know what to expect and I was being left alone (sort of..) and I am terrible with knowing where to go and what to do and AH. So yeah...I guess I was stressed too. We decided that serving a mission is really like serving 4 or 5 mini missions. Except that unlike with a real mission call, you find out where you're going 2-3 days before you leave. And then you're GONE! Let me tell you about Wednesday. That was a fun day....

Basically, Elder Johnson found out he was being called as ZL in Tours and Sr. Hafen was leaving to become STL in Nantes and me and Elder Allen were staying. But both of our new comps were coming from Belgium and Luxembourg straight to Mulhouse. So we found out that we were allowed to be on the same train alone, but we had to have a member waiting for us. Our train left for Paris (all 4 of us) at 5:51 in the morning and got us there at 9:07. Mine and Elder Allen's next train left at 10:23 and got us back to Mulhouse by 1:04. Our companions' train (they were on the same train too hahaha) got to Mulhouse at 1:47. Everything was SO fast. Saying goodbye...meeting random other Soeurs and Elders in Paris...the train rides...and then we got there and Patrick and Marjan were waiting for us. All is good. Until our companions' train is delayed for 4 HOURS. And it was too late to find a sister from the ward to hang out with me so that we could at least do missionary work, so basically me, Elder Allen, Patrick and Marjan hung out all day long doing NOTHING. I almost went crazy. Like literally. It was a close one. But then Sr. Gordon and Elder Saffell got there at 5:15! So that was a good day.

But seriously, it only went up from there. I love Sr. Gordon! She is so cute and a hard worker. We contact pretty well together, too. ;) And she laughs at my stupid jokes. So yeah, I like her :) No, but we get along super well! And I can already tell that we're going to see a lot of miracles together. We've had the chance to do a lot of contacting lately, and we've met a lot of awesome people! There was this one girl, Anna, who is probably 17. We talked to her and just testified simply that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us very much and that we are all His children. She started to cry and the spirit was so strong. It was freezing and it was already like 8:45, but it was beautiful and I wasn't even cold.

We also had our ward Veillée (evening get-together) last night where we had a little musical presentation by the ward and then the First Presidency message and then we got to eat lots of delicious french food. It was super tasty. And it was cool to meet all of the friends of the ward members that were there.

As far as amis go, pray for Ardian. He's having kind of a hard time right now. We're not exactly sure what's wrong, but please pray for him. Also, I'm not sure if I've ever told you all about Muriel. She is this adorable French mom that had a couple of lessons from the Elders a couple of years ago, and we found her again porting (tracting). She actually has a baptismal date, but pray that we'll be able to see her enough times during the week because she's pretty busy. That beautiful French family we found...we haven't been able to have a rendezvous with them yet because we've cancelled twice...once on Monday and once because of the trains. Ah. Pray that they will still want to see us...:)

Sorry I don't have any pictures this week!! I haven't had a camera. But no worries, I will make up for it next week, I promise! Right now I'm reading about Christ in Matthew so that I can read the Christmas story in Luke on Christmas Eve. It is so neat to read all about the amazing miracles He performed and the love that He felt for the people. Jesus is such an incredible example (of course). The mercy and love that He has...even in His time of mourning for His cousin John, He still felt compassion and loved them enough to heal hundreds even thousands of people. It's absolutely amazing. I love being a missionary so much. The scariest thing is that it is going by too fast. Yes, it's true that the food is amazing. The language is beautiful. But this work is what makes me want to stay here forever. I love it. I love it with all my heart. And what a wonderful time it is to remember the Savior and the sacrifice He made for us. With all of the Muslims here who do not celebrate Christmas, I just feel so sad. We are surrounded by people who do not accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. These people are so CLOSE, but they're missing one key point. Christ. It just makes me so sad.

I love you all so much. Je sais que cette église est la sienne. (I know that this church is His.) Je sais que c'est grâce à Jésus-Christ qu'on peut vivre avec nos familles à jamais. (I know that it is thanks to Jesus Christ we can live with our families forever.) Et je sais, avec tout mon cœur, que le moyen de trouver le vrai bonheur est à travers l'Evangile de Jésus-Christ. (And I know, with all my heart, that the way to find true happiness is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.)

Avec beaucoup d'amour (with much love),

Sœur Pettingill

P.S.!! Sorry, I just remembered that this week I tried my first escargots! Honestly, I thought they were super good. I ate four of them. :) This picture was one sent to me by Sr. Hafen. It's not super good of me, but hey, it's all we got! :)

BRRRIVE-la-Gaillarrrrrde (roll the r's) (Jacob-Brive)

Dear People,

Well this week was awesome and Brive is so sweet. It is definitely smaller that Toulon and I am coming from having over 100 buses to use to 7 so that is sweet. It has been crazy the difference and I can see my missionary work changes so much! Here were have been doing a lot more porting (tracting) and it works a lot more (that or it just depends on our mentality and amount of faith!) We have had a lot of miracles this week and I have really obtained a temoignage (testimony) of the principle of work. The key to this life is WORK. Also missionary work doesn't really happen until you find someone to teach. 

Saturday was a super awesome day and was plein de miracles (full of miracles). It was night time and our plans had fallen through so we decided to go have some miracles and go into centre-ville. So we went in and started just contacting like crazy and then taking roads that were smaller and porting. Well we were in the middle of centre-ville (where there is this huuuge cathedral that is just sitting there) and we saw this road that we hadn't been down and then we saw some stairs and an apartment building to port. So we walk up and start hitting the sonneries 
(doorbells--read about them on Jacob's companion's blog here). Well the third one down answered and we introduced ourselves (and they answered << wait like Jesus>> and then opened the front door.) Well basically it ended up being this young single adult in the ward who lived there but we had no idea. She had one of her friends over and we shared a little message right there and then left. Well she got the chance to talk to her friend about the gospel for like an hour after that and apparently her friend is interested! That was so cool and then we ported into a lady and got to teach her the 1st lesson! We are going back later this week!! So awesome!

Being the senior companion is a very difficult responsibility because not only does it mean that I have to make all the decisions, but I have to be the example in everything we do. It is really pushing me to try and be exactly obedient and do everything in our power to work hard! Something that I have instituted since getting to Brive is running every day... unfortunately not everyone (more like no one) likes running especially when it is cold, dark, and early... so basically we have the permission of the district leader to do morning exchanges so I can run! I got to run everyday last week with someone different (the amazing benefits of having 4 elders!). I feel so good when I get a good exercise and have way more energy..The rest of the apartment are doubtful that it is even worth anything and I think they are grateful for the rotations... :)

Yesterday at church we got a new Dirigeant des Missionnaires de Paroisse (DMP) (Ward Mission Leader) and it is this French young guy who just got off of his mission in September from Paris. He is so energetic and we had our first meeting last night that is going to help us be more effective as a ward and group of 4 missionaries.. He is so awesome and I can already tell great things are going to happen with this! He does not have a job right now and is engaged so he is still at point in his life where he can give a lot to help so that is going to be so cool!

Today I finished the Book of Mormon in French!! It was such a good feeling and I think now I am going to move onto the Bible! I didn't feel any different after finishing it and didn't have any angel come and give a candy bar wrapped in a testimony. I did think of the little testimonies I had received and experiences that I had while reading it. Where I felt something strong and that was awesome. It is so true that faith comes from doing and by keeping the commandments and reading the scriptures we begin to see the awesome fruit that we have! J'aime l'evangile et je sais que c'est vraie! (I love the Gospel and I know that it is true!)

J'ai hate pour le Noel et on vient de fixer nos plans avec les membres pour tout ca! (I'm looking forward to Christmas and we just set up our plans for all that!) Christmas Eve nous allons (we are going) to eat at the house of l'eveque (the Bishop) and then Christmas afternoon we are going to the young men's presidents house and Sister Allal (his wife) is going to make a bunch of FRENCH food for us to try!!!

Well I love you so much and I am so excited to talk to y'all on Christmas!!! 

Love Elder Pettingill!!

P.s Tomorrow is Zone Conference and so we will be getting our presents ( we'll see if I can wait... ;) )

Jacob's companion describes there "HUGEST BEST YUMMIEST thing I have ever had. 2 Euro Speculoos Eclair. SOO good!"

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

And the voice has spoken (Jacob-Brive)

Dear Family,

I imagine you are very interested to hear the fate of the Friday calls from President. Well I left Toulon (sadly but amazingly!) I went across the country to the small town of Brive-la-Gaillarde!!

I am now in the process of opening up a new equipe (companionship) with my extremely old companion of 3 months (yes he is going into his 3 transfer... And that makes me the highest amount of French in the companionship!!!). His name is Elder Adamson and he is from Utah! He is 19 but right out of high school! He is super awesome and I can already tell that we are going to have a lot of fun together!! Brive is a beautiful apparently cold place (normally, but because of the weirdly warm winter it is not too bad!) but it is definitely a lot colder than Toulon! We have a ward here so that is nice and we are already going to go see the Bishop tonight! Also you don't need to worry about Christmas because the other Elders here (Elder Packer and his new bleu that will arrive Friday) already fixed things up and we are going to go eat with a family all together for Christmas Eve and then we got someone else to do emails all together Christmas night!  So that was nice and with a couple Sundays the members won't be able to not love us! 

Elder Adamson has 8 brothers and sisters so we have a couple things in common!

He just came from serving in Grenoble for 2 transfers so he knows what cold is... This transfer is going to be awesome having 4 Elders in our apartment (except for the fact that now we are in an apartment for 2 but it is still really good) We are in the Bordeax Zone and Elder Smith followed me to be my Zone leader again! I have Perigueux and Bergerac in my district! 

As far as my last week in Toulon, it was really great! It is amazing how easy it is to fix rdvs (appointments) with people when they know you are leaving. Sunday we left Church and then basically just went from house to house to house. We saw 3 amis and a less active! We had been seeing Bruno all weekend and he came to church, but he was sad I was leaving (being the first missionary he met) and so we passed him Sunday night and he gave me a watch! I tried not to accept it but what was I supposed to do? He is so golden and we talked about tithing with him, he was like <<There is no way I will keep that!>> but then he said << but I will pray about it if it is something I need to do>> so that was an acceptable response... ;) We were so happy and I can't wait to get the pics from his baptism! I also saw Christian Sunday night and that was very quick because we didn't have much time but I have a photo to remember him so that is awesome!

Yesterday for trains I got on a train at 8h45 (a.m.)went to Marseille for 1 hour 30, waited 45 minutes, then hopped on a four hour train ride to Toulouse then waited for 1h30 then hopped on a 2 hour train ride straight to Brive and got in at 19h00 (7 p.m.)!! It took a little bit to get there! But it was super awesome because I got to see a bunch of people from the MTC and meet tons of other missionaries who all were coming and going through Toulouse and Marseille.

So there you have it!!


Elder Pettingill

We also got to email real time and I asked him lots of questions.  Here are his responses:

How are you?  
I am great!.0

That is a beautiful area of France. It's near Angouleme which was my first area. I only wish you were on bikes so you could ride around and see the countryside.  Although Angouleme was brutal on bikes because it has tons of hills.  
WE DOOO HAVE BIKES!!!!  Brive is also slightly hilly but we do have bikes ( right now only two are working but Elder Packer is going to get two other ones running.)

I loved being on a bike on my mission. The bus made me sleepy. 
Yeah I agree!! Here there are buses but the missionaries don't use them so it will be walking and bikes here!! 

Are you the senior companion since you have been out longer? 
Yes that makes me the senior companion. Plus we get to start a new area book with nothing but tabs in it :) 

Dad is sitting next to me and says 'very fun.'  He says that is what he always wanted to do, start brand new in a new city. 
We aren't exactly starting anew because there are the other elders here (Elder Packer has been here for 3 transfers already)  and they have a nice fat area book that we may steal a little from.

So you said you are going to a member's house to email for Christmas.  Did you mean phone calls? 
Yeah I meant skype... 

Where is Elder Adamson in his family line up?  What number child? 
He is #3

Did Elder Adamson have French before his mission?
No only 8th and 9th grade.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Tranfers, Manneles, Screaming Boy, and lots of FRENCH (Katie-Mulhouse)

BonJOUR famille (Hello family)!!

What. A. Week. I don't even know where to start. This is probably going to take me an entire hour to write, so take a breath. First, yes I'm staying in Mulhouse!! Call me happiest person in the world. I'll tell you all about my new collegue (companion) NEXT week, as I haven't even met her yet. All I know is her name, which is Sœur Gordon. Unfortunately, Sr. Hafen is leaving and I'm going to miss her SO. MUCH! We have gotten so close. She is an amazing missionary. She is going to Nantes to replace her dying "mom" as STL (Sister Training Leader) there. She's going to be an incredible STL, and even though I'm going to miss her so much, she's going to do amazing things there!! I just wish she was MY STL. Then we would get to go on exchanges once a transfer. :) But that's okay. I'll update you when I know more next week :)
District photo! Gonna miss them! (the numbers are how many transfers they've had)
 In front of our street sign
Us in this HUGE fur coat someone gave us
I had to have a Nutella gauffre (waffle) because I was so sad about Sr. Hafen leaving

We had TWO baptisms in Mulhouse this weekend!! Ardian still isn't ready to be baptized, but Xhoana looked absolutely beautiful. We did her hair, got her a white dress to be baptized in, and the ward members pitched in and got her 4 new outfits to choose from to wear to church. Ardian was there and he did tell us that he's very proud of his wife for this decision and knows that he needs to take care of her even more now. Hahaha silly Ardian. But let me tell you one of the best parts of this whole weekend: JAANEL (also apparently I've been spelling his name wrong this whole time...still pronounced yah-nell). He reminded me so much of home. As we sat there in the chapel listening to the service, he ran around with loud toys disrupting as much as a 2 year old possibly can. We would try to take him out, but he would SCREAM if he didn't get to be with his mom. Therefore, it was a fun night :) No, it wasn't too bad, it just made me laugh that as much as we want it to be perfectly golden, this is reality. This is a two year old boy. Hahaha :) Actually, I was asked to give the talk on Baptism (and it had to be in FRENCH...) and the funny part is that because the 2 people getting baptized (Xhoana and Marjan, the Elders' ami) both speak English, not French, Sr. Hafen was elected as translator for me. But I really felt the Spirit, even though I was freaking out...first talk ever in French...I really testified with my whole heart. And I think it went alright. After me, Sr. Hafen, and the Elders did a musical number: "Je sais qu'il vit mon Rédempteur." ("I Know That My Redeemer Lives") Sr. Hafen played her flute for part of it. It was so beautiful, Mom you would have LOVED it :) Also, it was kind of fun to be on the "mom" side of the baptism. We helped Xhoana get dressed into church clothes and dry off after (Fr. Sebirot, our DMP, baptized her) and everything. And Jaanel did NOT like it that he was dunking her under water...haha poor little boy.

And on Sunday, we had to ask someone who can speak English to give her the Holy Ghost because apparently for that she has to be able to understand, so we asked Frere (Brother) Burri who speaks like a billion languages to do it. We had a Soirée Familiale (Family Home Evening) with them once. And it was absolutely beautiful. I was praying so hard that Jaanel would be quiet just for 5 minutes during the blessing but also that Ardian would be able to see it. He was being crazy during the whole meeting, but right before Xhoana was called up, Jaanel walked out by himself. No idea why. And she was able to go up and it was perfectly silent during the whole prayer. He came back in screaming right when she came back was such a tender mercy from the Lord and the spirit was SO strong. What an incredible experience. And the day will come when Ardian is ready to take that step as well. :)

Let me quickly tell you about 2 more families we found. First is Anthony and his wife and 3 daughters. They're Indian and came over from their country because they believe in Jesus Christ but everyone there is Buddhist basically. They have a church here,  but pray that they'll let us teach them the lessons! The dad speaks English. The other family is a MIRACLE. We were on a tram and Sr. Hafen saw them first and she was like, Sœur, look at that family! And I looked. And lo I beheld a dad, a mom, and 3 beautiful blue-eyed children. So we talked to them  :) They're croyant, but non pratiquant (believing but non-practicing) (the best situation you can have with an ami). And we're going to teach them today!! Pray for this family!! I love them already.  They are a beautiful family.

Okay I'm going to backtrack a little...on Thursday it was the French holiday St. Nicholas and a member invited us and some other amis (including Xhoana and Ardian) to come over and eat a traditional St. Nicholas dinner. We had chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) in a bowl, manneles (pronounced "mah-nah-luh" which is Alsacian, but they're also called bon hommes) with jam and butter, and clementines and pain d'épices (which is basically really really yummy gingerbread). Oh and chocolate. It was super duper good...although when we got home both me and Sr. Hafen felt SICK because we had eaten so much. But it was fun :)
St Nicholas dinner

Christmas marche (market)

Also, Dad it's funny that you talked about that quote because there is actually a picture of Pres and Sr Poznanski in it. And I LOVE that quote...we had a district meeting on it. It's so cool. As a zone this week we're studying patience as a Christlike attribute, and they've sent us some amazing scriptures. One of my favorites is Alma 38:4-5. What a wise father that Alma was. I can't believe Christmas is in like 16 days!! Like WHAT?! So much has happened this year. I love you all so much and I'm so grateful for the support of my family. I'm so grateful to be a missionary and I'm so grateful to have this connaissance (knowledge) of the gospel. I know with all my heart that it's true. And even though being a missionary in France is GREAT, it really doesn't matter. I would love being a missionary anywhere I went. Looking forward to next week!

à la prochaine! (until next time!)

Sœur Pettingill

Here is the quote that Katie refers to which Rich shared with both Katie and Jacob in his email this week: 
Elder L. Tom Perry: “This is the most remarkable era in the history of the Church. This is something that ranks with the great events that have happened in past history, like the First Vision, like the gift of the Book of Mormon, like the Restoration of the gospel, like all of the things that build that foundation for us to go forward and teach in our Father in Heaven’s kingdom” (“Concluding Remarks” [address given at the seminar for new mission presidents, June 26, 2013], 1, Church History Library, Salt Lake City)."

Monday, December 2, 2013

I am so THANKFUL to be a missionary (Katie-Mulhouse)


Hi. Wow I love reading emails each week. It feels like I'm in such a different world that I can't believe that you still went to Aunt Jeanette's for Thanksgiving and had tons of PIE...and stuff. But no worries, I had a great Thanksgiving too. :) Dad, I'm glad you got my letter! I love you!! And I'm glad you're getting better! Sounds like you guys had a crazy week. That makes all of us, then. :)

So, premierement (first), I had something really terribly awful happen to me. An Elder was handing me my camera back at Thanksgiving the ground...and DIED. Saddest day of my life. No, I'm kidding, but seriously I'm not sure exactly what to do. Elder Allen left his camera on a bus and had to buy a new one, but it was 99 euro, and that seems like a feel free to tell me exactly what to do. :)

Okay, so for Thanksgiving we got to go to Nancy for zone conference and INTERVIEWS! My first ever! I LOVE our President and his wife. He is such an inspired man. He's so kind and so funny and so wonderful. And so is his wife! My interview with her was something I'll never forget. She asked me to tell her one thing I've learned since being on my mission, and what came to my mind first was my strengthened testimony of the Book of Mormon. As I started explaining this to her (yes it was in like, no pressure...), the Spirit entered SO strong and flooded my heart and my eyes. With tears (you know how it goes). And I couldn't help but feel this incredible LOVE for this incredible book. I know with all of my heart that it's true, but that's not what made me feel the spirit so strong. I know that it changes lives. I've seen it in our amis' lives (ours and the Elders) and I've seen in the lives of other missionaries, including my own. For this Thanksgiving, I am so grateful to be a missionary. To be at a point spiritually, physically, mentally, that I can give 18 months to the Lord. Oh but also, no worries, we ate LOTS of food...I literally thought I was going to throw up I ate so much. We had tons of mashed 35 kilos of potatoes...and chicken and some other stuff. And for dessert, Sr. Hafen and I made a tarte aux pommes (yep, we're basically French. It's whatever), but there was also homemade pumpkin pie, some other kinds of pies...lots of yummy stuff actually that I can't even remember. It was so good. :)

The tarte we made

SO FULL after eating

As far as amis go, I have some really happy news...and some not so happy news. We had what we call a "lessons of faith" lesson with Mirjana this week. It's basically a you need to be baptized or we have to drop you lesson and I HATE them. I think it went really well as far as understanding goes. The spirit was definitely there. But we basically told her that when she is ready to be baptized, she can call US. And we're gone until she does. It was so hard. I love her so much. Just pray that she realizes that she DOES need to be baptized and that she'll call us. But on the bright side, Xhoana and Ardian are being BAPTIZED this week!!!! We're so excited. We are almost completely done with the lessons; the only thing is Ardian is still a little hesitant. At this point he is saying no, he isn't ready. He told us that he wants to read the entire Book of Mormon first so that he is sure that it's true. PLEASE pray that while reading this week, he will have the spiritual experience needed to be ready for baptism. He is ready and he does have a testimony, he just hasn't recognized it yet. He is such a sweet man. We've really seen them be blessed this week because of their decision to be baptized. They now have jokers (passes for buses and trams), a warm hotel room, and food once a day. Their situation has skyrocketed since a week ago. It's incredible. Please continue to pray for them :)

Saturday, we had a lot of opportunities to do service, and with that we had NO time to do anything!! Hahaha we only had 1 lesson and skipped lunch and dinner (well, we were fasting for dinner, but still). And we actually didin't skip lunch, we bought a pizza on the way and were literally eating it out of the box as we half ran to catch a tram...haha the French people were probably HORRIFIED at us. Let's just say it's not normal for the french to eat with their hands...or out of the box...or without napkins...and we didn't even have a dessert. I know, I know I promise we'll do better next time! ;) But it was such a good day. I just felt so happy. And tired. But so happy! We're here to serve, and that's what we did!

Anyway, love you all! Keep me updated and I'll do the same!! ;)

Love, Sœur Pettingill

 Us, Elders and the DMP (Ward Mission Leader)

 cheese aisle at the grocery store

 opening the first chocolate from our Kinder advent calendar

 Us and some members on Sunday who are only a couple of years older than us

The Bishop's daughter who was baptized on Sunday

Dear Family! (Jacob-Toulon)

Dear Family,

This week has been crazy and we have had so much going on that we are again here at P-day writing letters like normal. We have seen some miracles. As mission were are in the process of accomplishing our goals for baptisms before Christmas. We have been having several miracles that happened because of that . One was that we got back in touch with Christian! We have been texting him spiritual thoughts and words of encouragment and then one night he just responded ok you can come over tomorrow morning!! So awesome. So we went over, and he told that he is done listening to the "dumb problems" that his family has and just make his own decisions! He also said that he read every spiritual thought that we sent and has still been reading and hasn't smoked at all!!! He is so amazing. He said he missed church and wanted to know if it would be ok to come... we had to think a lot about that one... he is coming next week because he had stuff yesterday. 

Thanksgiving was a little excessive I would say and never thought I could come closer to dying from eating. I will send the pictures. Basically what we ended up doing is that for district meeting we all gathered together and brought a dish and then ate it. So Elder Blythe being adventurous decided that we could do the turkeys... the only problem was that we couldn't find any turkeys, so we got chickens. Then we had to bring them from Toulon to Cannes and then prepare them there. So Thursday morning we got to the gare and found out the trains were late... so 2 and a half hours later we got on our train to Cannes and then got there just in time for lunch rather than around 9.. That was fun but it turned out fine. We ended up having two chickens with lots of stuffing, another thing of stuffing made by Cannes, three different pies (pumkin, cinnamon, and apple crisp.) So yummy. We also had some good old mashed potatoes and and rolls. We ate well, had a great district meeting and then I went on an exchange with Elder Miner in Cannes, where we ended up going to a member,s house who is American and ate ANOTHER Thanksgiving meal about 4 hours later, except this time there was 4 times the food and 4 non-members!!! So awesome, but I did almost become like Foie Gras.... (which apparently comes from the technique of force feeding poultry).

Then I came home and we went to ward Choeur (choir) practice. There were again 4 non-member and so we got to sing church songs and share the gospel at the same time. The only problem was that because we are in France and there are not tons of people... there only 12 people (Amazing it evened out so each part had 3 people) and that meant that I became one of the 3 basses... Thank goodness the other two were good singers so I had someone to follow. It ws a good experience but it was also kind of  a real choir so my voice hurt at the end... 

Then we woke up early Saturday morning and went running for the second time this transfer! (Elder Blythe had a boost of motivation from nowhere so we did it!!) That was so awesome and I felt so good afterwards. We then went out and taught 4 lessons that afternoon and night and also ate at one of our member's house to start the fast! It was very traditional, tomatoes and shredded carrots to start it off (I have really come to love tomatoes with a good vinegar sauce...) and then a potato casserole and then peaches and Speculoos cookies for dessert! So healthy but so good!! (also funny because there was no meat) 

Then Sunday and Bruno and his son Ryad came to church. They are so awesome and came all on their own! We have been teaching them for about 3 months now and I have literally seen the change in him. He has this huge desire to stop smoking and is down to about 2 a day but committed to stop completely. Bruno just sucks up church and the members already love him. We already had several members come to us and say "if that man needs anything, just let me know. It is so great and they are really helping him to feel comfortable! This week we showed him the apps on his ipad and Iphone so he was bring up scriptures during gospel principles with his phone this week and he is super intrigued by Doctrine and Covenants.

Well I love you!!!

Elder Pettingill