Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Well 23 hours of travel is not effective (Jacob-Lyon)

So you've got the news, and I was so sad to hear that I was going to leave Brive after so much time and love was put into that amazing ward! It was really sad to say goodbye and then to hop on the train.

Exchange with Elder Sanchez in Bergerac
My last week in Brive was well spent and I got to really get to know the train system. Tuesday I was able to learn so much from Elder Beyer on our exchange in Brive. Then Tuesday night we headed out and took the 3 hour train ride back to Bordeaux in order to sleep over there so Elder Martinez and I could come back at 7h00 the next morning to Perigueux where I met the Bergerac Elders. Then we headed back towards Bordeaux so we could then take a train towards Bergerac and then took the bus the next morning after the exchange to Perigueux then train to Brive for district meeting and then an exchange after in Perigueux. Then finally I made it back with Elder Martinez for calls and found out that I was leaving and then the days went soooooo slow and I just wanted to contact everyone in Brive and E. Martinez and I had a couple crazy miracles before leaving! We made a birthday brownie cake and then took pictures and saw all the best members and then voila we are now good. Now after the 13 hours of trains for excanges and the 10 hours of trains to get across the country from Brive to Lyon, I am happy to be in a city where all the exchanges I will need to do will be within walking distance!

Already I am overwhelmed with the incredible amount of transportation here and the amazing amount of people there are here! My companion Elder Frost is so great! He is funny blue and just great! I can tell that we are going to have an awesome time here! I had a hard time adjusting to the large increase of people but now I am there and feel like a bleu (new missionary) again runnning around Lyon trying to talk to as many people as possible! I love the gospel and I love being a missionary! It is amazing. We set some high goals and we are expecting miracles being in Lyon. Also I think we might be having a baptism is two weeks... Also our apartment has a toaster so I am excited to have yummy egg sandwhiches in the mornings!! 

The other Elders in my apartment are Elder Kunz and Elder Smith (he was my ZL both in Toulon and Bordeaux! and now Lyon!)

We are in Villeurbanne so I am in the secteur of the Office so if I want anything I can just hop on the metro and get there in 10 minutes! So sweet!

But I got to go and I will tell you about my week next week!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Ooh, stop, it's too real (Katie-Toul)

Hello everybody:

You know, someone very wise once told me that the closest you ever get to real life is on a mission. What the heck does that even mean? Well, I think I've started to figure it out.

Soeur Evans is going home this week. 

She is LEAVING the realness of missionary work, and that has helped me to really understand how real life is here because of how much it has to do with the eternal salvation of, well, everyone. I really saw this in the miracle we had on Sunday. Seven of my best friends came to church this week. :) My heart just felt so happy! Seven people whom I LOVE and whose friendships I cherish came and felt the spirit in a place that holds the true gospel of Jesus Christ. How cool is that? One couple, who we taught just the night before, are like our grandma and grandpa. They are the ones who threw me a birthday surprise ;) Sylvie told us that ever since we have been coming to see them, Louis (her husband) has been kinder and more patient. Louis of course denied all of this, but she was so sincere. And I know that that is the spirit.

Ah man, being a missionary is so cool! I don't have tons of time to tell you every cool miracle I saw this week, but just know that I love it. I love it. Oh did I say that already? 


Also, I will be having a lovely companion coming to join me here in Toul on Wednesday. Her name is Soeur Johns (different Soeur Johns, Mom ;) ). I've met her once for like two seconds, but I've heard wonderful things. I'm excited to start a new adventure for the next transfer or so! 

I love you all. You are the BEST. Thank you for your support and your love!

Soeur Pettingill
soirée familiale with tahitians in our branch
our district :)
ICE CREAM ! Or something.

Jacob is leaving Brive and transfering to Lyon

Brive District

Saying goodbye to Elder Hunt--the red eyes tell the story

On the train to Lyon. At least he doesn't have to say goodbye to Elder Martinez quite yet.

Monday, May 19, 2014

District Meeting and frog legs (Jacob-Brive)

Dear Family,

This week was great! We had lots of fun and learned soo much! We started off by having a wonderful family night with the Family Meloen. It was weird because it was at the church but in anycase I loved it a lot because their family reminds me of ours. Large and full of personality. 

Then Tuesday we made our way down to Sarlat with Thomas Allal and had a great morning with the O'Mullans (who are actually the biggest family coming in at 10 children). IT was great because Thomas, who just got back from Utah, got to practice listening to an Irish accent which is a little harder than the Utah accent. He had a hard time when Fr. O'Mullan said some words like Meshnries (missionaries).

Later that night we saw Thierry and watch How Rare a Possesion with him and found out that he had started praying! He had tried it twice and said it wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. Tomorrow we are going to talk about a baptismal date. We also saw Eric and he accepted the Word of Wisdom and fixed a baptismal date for July 5th! We are going to work for that and we are hoping that he will be a good influence on Alain (which the Lord knew that Alain needed). 

Wednesday I got to do an awesome exchange with Elder Johnson who came from Lyon (the second or third biggest cities in France to Bergerac the 2nd or 3rd smallest city. ;) Well close to that. It was really good! Then we had district meeting in Brive which was super good. Then everyone left and Elder Fletcher stayed here in Brive and we did an exchange. We also had that night a combined birthday party for an Ami and me so that was super great! 

Friday we had a great English class (we played Jeopardy). 

Satuday was a great day! We went to samedi sportif (Saturday sports) and played soccer! Then ate some lunch and off we went to do some service for a member in Uzerche. That was super great and then that night we had an awesome Curry dinner with Thierry and the Dremeaux family! That was super fun! 

Then yesterday was an awesome Sunday! We had Thierry, Alain and Eric there! They are all doing well; Alain has fallen back into smoking alot and really needs prayers right now so if you think about him.

Something that I really learned this week was that prayer is hard to do right. It really should take lots of effort and not necessarily long time but that as we push our thought towards others and their needs our love grows and our prayers are more meaningful! Also I learned so many great things about how to improve our personal studies of the scriptures in Chapter 2 of PMG this week! 

Love you!!
Elder Pettingill

Also, a couple of things from emailing back and forth today:

I am doing really well! Thanks so much for the presents! We have all been enjoying the whoopie cushions that Chrissy sent and it is good that she sent so many because apparently they break somewhat easily after extreme usage! Also, the frog legs are from today at Tan Phat. My time is up! I will tell you about it next time!! 

Opening his birthday presents
Whoopie cushions!

Frog legs on pday

The birthday of a lifetime (Katie-Toul)

Hey everyone!

Really lame picture of me blowing out my candles. 
Yes, in case you're wondering, I did indeed have an incredible birthday. I'll tell you about that first. Soeur Evans is an ANGEL person and made me speculoos french toast for breakfast (amazing, by the way), and then we went and did wonderful things all day like see amis de l'églised (investigators--exact translation is friends of the church)! We had lunch with a family who lives a 2 hour drive away, then a gouter (snack) with our golden family, the Brice family, who are doing wonderfully. Apparently the Word of Wisdom makes so much sense to Christophe that he just accepted it. Except he told us he's going to have a hard time actually following it because of all the stress. So we're working on that. :) Then comes the crazy part! We were supposed to have a lesson/dinner with this other wonderful family we're teaching, Louis and Sylvie, but Soeur Evans called a few days ago and told them that it was my birthday, so they surprised me!! Haha! Birthday cake, candles, a present, roses, the whole shabang. I almost started crying...so Mom, you don't need to worry, my French family took good good care of me. :) We do have pictures but not on my camera, so you'll get them next week. So let's just say the best birthday EVER, and that was thanks to my wonderful companion and all of the other people who sent me things/thought of me/thought of sending me things ;) THANK YOU.

Us and Angélique. she's a shorty.
But. That actually has nothing to do with the subject line of my email. You see, another person this week had a birthday, and her name is Angélique. That's right; everything went well with Angélique's baptism. In fact, everything went PERFECTLY. Prayer works. We had so much support from our members and even had an ami come, and afterwards Angélique told us that she has chills, but they're not cold. That's how she feels the Spirit. :) She is a miracle! She has lived such a hard life, and has done many not so great things because of it, but now, at 27 years old, she has made the choice of a lifetime. The choice of eternity. What a beautiful, beautiful day. And the best part is that I wasn't sure if she was ready. The Wednesday before the baptism, I had doubts. Lots of them. I wasn't sure if she had a testimony, I wasn't sure if she was ready to make these covenants, I just wasn't sure. Call it the adversary. Call it the natural man. I don't know. But then we had a soirée familiale (family home evening) with a family in our branch and them, and the activity he wanted us to do was take turns bearing our testimonies. So we all did, and finally he asked Angélique if she would like to. And she did. At that moment I felt the spirit so strongly testify to me that she is READY. That yeah, she's not perfect, and she will continue to not be perfect. But she wants and needs this Gospel in her life. Angélique is a miracle. :)

I love all of you. I love being a missionary. I love seeing this gospel change lives. 

Soeur Pettingill
 I got to see my lovely Soeur Gordon at zone conf! :)

Monday, May 12, 2014

No, I won't hold your cat on my lap while I eat (Katie-Toul)

Hey everyone!

Okay family, talking to you yesterday was the best. I can't get over how completely different Adam looked and sounded! Everyone else looked/sounded pretty much the same ;) I just love you guys a lot. 

I have some exciting things to share with you. 

We'll start with the miracle! It's funny because usually as missionaries we see lots and lots of tiny miracles all throughout the week that are wonderful and remind us how blessed and loved we are. This week was a little bit different. We had one GIANT miracle. Just one. And oh boy, was it incredible! I will tell you about. Angélique's original baptismal date was for this last saturday that just passed, and we have been PRAYING and praying and fasting and fasting and begging the Lord for a miracle with the marriage papers for Ang and Loïc. They have the desire to get married. She has the desire to get baptized. We have the faith that He can do all. Come on, why WOULDN'T this be His will?! Alas, no papers; no miracle. Si! Just not in the way we thought. We went over to their house on Wednesday and had this what we thought was going to be light lesson on the 10 commandments, which led into the law of chastity of course (don't know why we weren't expecting that...), which led into this super intense lesson about prayer (yeah, I don't know). And we told Angélique that unless she was respecting the law of chastity, we would have to move her baptismal date back. We said we could move it to the end of June to give the papers time and whatnot, and immediately she stood up and said, "Wait, no! I don't want that!" We were kind of in shock. Um...well...what do you want? "I want to be baptized next week."


You understand that Loïc needs to sleep somewhere else then, right? We had no idea what she was thinking...we were just kind of standing there in awkward missionary stance. She said, "Yes...I understand that...I will pray about it and let you know later." So we left that lesson somewhat confused at what happened, and honestly not thinking she would actually make Loïc move out (okay okay, lack of faith, I know. But she was very convincing about the whole "oh but I can't sleep alone!" thing!). So we went back on Friday, and they had just gotten back from somewhere. She practically runs up to us and says, "Guess what." What...? "We just got back from Loïc's mom's house. He's moving out on Monday, and I'm getting baptized!!" 

I literally almost passed out, while Soeur Evans freaked out. No, miracles do not always come in the way we want or think. But they do come.

This week we also saw the family Brice! Oh I love them. Talk about beautiful, perfect, wonderful family. They came to church and then after Christophe (the dad) got a blessing from Fr. Claus. It was beautiful. They are beautiful. 

Okay, I just have to tell you about something I think is absolutely silly. Have I told you about French people and their animals? They all have them. Everyone. Usually cats, but often dogs too. Or both. And they WORSHIP their animals (okay, not literally), and feed them fancy food and let them do whatever they want. I mean, I'm all for animals--I think they're great! But not THAT great. And one of our amis, Catherine, told us about this messe (mass) they do in Paris for animals. 

Yes, you read that right. A messe (mass) for animals. Don't believe me? Watch a video about it.

I just think it's the funniest thing! And oftentimes, during dinner, I will have cats spring up onto my lap, and the member is like, "Oh you don't mind, do you?" "Oh, no, of course not" (YES I MIND). But anyway, what would Jesus do? I just have to keep telling myself that.

No, wait, actually...what WOULD Jesus do? Hm. Food for thought.

Anyway I love you all! I'm thinking about you and praying for you.  

Soeur Pettingill
This is Foug (pronounced like "fool" with a g). I love Foug.
​This is called a brocante. No, the French don't do individual garage sales all throughout the year. They do one BIG one on a jour férié :)
​Welcome to the ultimate volleyball game. With tahitians.

Last Monday, a member took us to an American Military Cemetery. We couldn't decide if it was appropriate to smile...
 The last two show the difference between an American military cemetery and a French one. 

Great week (Jacob-Brive)

Well this week was really good but I think that the quote that can define how I felt when Olivia decided not to get baptized was "One of the HAPPIEST moments ever is when you feel the courage to let go of what you cannot change." (The funny thing about that quote is that I got while the mission nurse was talking to us about the things that we can change like personal hygiene, etc). In any case Olivia said she will see for later and wants to see the missionaries in the US, so we exchanged emails so that when she gets over there I can get her contact info and then WHOOP the missionaries will just happen to knock her door.

Elder Hunt and Elder Pettingill--good friends
Something fun we did this week was again Saturday sports. I really loved getting out and running around. I have been dying because nobody will run with me (and there is only a certain amount of pushing and dragging and water pouring that you can do to help others get up and run around aimlessly at 6h30 in the morning) but being able to get out and just run my heart out and play some soccer was really awesome!

We also had an awesome Saturday full of lots of adventures. A member in the ward took us out to eat to celebrate Elder Kiser's birthday so that was super fun! 

So that was super awesome!!!
I love you all,
Elder Pettingill

P.S. Thanks for the packages!
The birthday packages arrived!
At a wedding with all the Brive Elders

Elder Hunt and Elder Martinez

Monday, May 5, 2014

Weather, holidays, and lots of Brive eclairs (Jacob-Brive)

Elder Pettingill and Elder Martinez with a friend at a wedding
Well what another weirdly great week! Theme of the week. Change. We were having a little weather damper at the beginning of the week and that made everyone want to stay in their homes and sleep or something because Brive was a little dead. It was alright though because I got to do an awesome exchange with Elder Miner (who was in Cannes and I did an exchange with him when he was in his 2nd transfer and I was in my 3rd.) So that was super awesome to be able to reunite and relearn from each other and see how things have changed. He said that something I have stopped doing is to just say random things to people in order to contact them. I think it is really funny he said that because I don't even remember doing that!

Another awesome thing is that we had Zone Interviews with President on Friday! That was super fun and I feel so energized like always!! We talked a lot about planning and how we can achieve our goals! I kind of went a little crazy and wrote a two page list of all the things I have to work on and so I had to do a re-run and decided on just two things I wanted to work on. But there are literally so many different things to do right now especially as a district leader. I am really trying to turn outwards and help my district!

Another fun thing that we did was we had samedi sportif (sports Saturday) which was super good for the first time! We had a good 8 people total and a couple amis came.
From Elder Montgomery's Blog, a picture of a Brive eclair

Also we played a game this week where we counted points according to a system that I came up with and then the winners got Brive eclairs. And then two other missionaries had asked for Brive eclairs (apparently you can only get eclairs this size for this cheap in Brive).

Also, we just found out that Elder Andersen is coming on June 10 to speak to the mission! I am so excited. Apparently there will be all 250 missionaries in the mission there supposedly in Nice for it so it might be a little packed.

Well I didnt have much time this week sorry... I love you all and will see you SUNDAY!! 

Love Elder Pettingill

P.S. happy early Mother's Day (but I will tell you in person too ;))

If you're not a car, get off the road! (Katie-Toul)

Dearest everyone,

I had a really good week. 

Okay, let me start over. 

I had such a GREAT week!! I have a few very specific things to tell you about, so don't look at the pictures until AFTER I tell you the stories that go with!

But first I want to tell you about a little miracle. We were Easter porting a few weeks back and knocked on this man's door who said he had a friend who is American! He told us his name, and we said to ourselves, "Huh...ça nous dit quelque chose..." ("Huh..that tells us something") and then he told us some more things about him and we figured out that he was a missionary here 30 years ago!! He taught this man 30 years ago, back before he had children and before he was divorced. His name is Hervé, and he is so cool. Like, so cool. We were finally able to have a lesson with him and a member this week (his son who is a chef made us dinner). He told us that back when he was being taught, he didn't care about God or religion or anything. He worked a ton. He had a family. He didn't even have time to think about things like that. But now he works a lot less, his son is grown and he is divorced. Let's just say he has time to think. And now he has a real desire to know if God is there and if religion is even worth his time. Ah it's so worth his time!! Pray that he will receive an answer to his prayers. He is so ready. :)

Now for the pictures. The first picture was during the exchange I got to go on! Exchanges each transfer are the BEST. It's mostly because I was in the same "sister zone" in Lux, and so I have the same STLs, and so I'm a very happy person because I just love them. They are the same sisters I lived with for a few days after leaving Lux, so we have a special bond ;) Something we like to do as sister missionaries is dropping off cookies to members, and in this particular picture, we didn't have time to go in and share a thought, so we were super sneaky and dropped them off at the door and ran. Mission Drop-Off-Cookies was successful!

The next picture has to do with the subject line of my email this week. Okay, as a missionary with a car driving through country roads and tiny villages, things that do not drive fast are included in the "Get off the road!" statement as follows: tractors, ATVs, cows, smart cars. Can I tell you how many times we have gotten stuck behind all of these things and more? Oh, you are going to drive 25 (maybe) km per hour on a two-lane country road where we can go 90? Yes, I'm going to pass you. Well, TRY to pass you. But seriously. No tractors are. not. cars. *sigh*.  A few transfers back I prayed for patience. Bad idea.

Now, you may scroll through all of the rest of the pictures I have included. We went to visit an ami on Saturday that lives in Chaumont, about 100 km away from us. This meant about 4 hours of driving in one day (2 hours there and 2 hours back), not including all of the other driving we did. So Soeur Evans thought it would be a good idea to take my camera and take about 705126984 pictures of french landscape/tiny towns/anything on the way as we drove. So I thought I would include a few of them for your enjoyment :) French countryside really is beautiful!

And the sky was all cloudy and mysterious looking and we were driving through fields and fields of Colza (vegetable oil flowers that are super bright yellow). It was like driving through a dream. We also drove through tons of tiny villages that were just so cute! So she took pictures of that too. One thing about French history is Jeanne d'Arc.(Joan of Arc) She's french. Surprise! No I think you knew that. But that means that there is at least one rue (street) in each ville (town) called rue jeanne d'arc. BUT! On the way to Chaumont, we passed through Domrémy, which just happens to be where Jeanne d'Arc was BORN. We stopped for 2 seconds and took a few pictures really fast. I'm definitely going back there...it was so beautiful. :)

I love being a missionary. I love you all. Have a great week!

Gros bisous,
Soeur Pettingill