Tuesday, July 29, 2014

3 nights in Nice (Jacob-Nice)

Well this week has been once again crazy!! It just so happened that I got to do the exchanges in the outer cities this week and so basically that meant not being in Nice for almost 4 days straight. 

On Monday we had a nice relaxing P-day which was nice before we started off on our long fun week. 

Tuesday we went in the morning and played soccer with our friends that we are trying to teach, which was great until we hopped on a train to Antibes where I got to start my exchange with Elder Thompson! I love exchanges because there are so many miracles! Just one quick one was that we were walking back to take a late lunch around 4 pm and we contacted this lady that seemed super nice. We started by using the questionnaire (questions about religion they use to contact people) and it was going really well. She explained how she was slightly believing and was trying to get closer to God. We explained the restoration of the church and then offered her a copy of the Book of Mormon. She was super surprised and thanked us so much. She then began to explain how she had just lost the father of her children and that it was exactly what she needed! She took it and promised to call after reading a little. I then started to quickly testify that families could be together forever and that she would see her husband again; Then she stopped me and said "NOOO, sorry he isn't dead, we are actually just getting a divorce right now.." That was slightly awkward so I just said, well in any case this book will bless you and we left. Haha. 

Then Wednesday afternoon we came back and I grabbed a couple extra things for the next couple days and basically we hopped back on the train to TOULON!! That was fun! Elder Nelson and I had a great exchange full of lots of fun. At the end we had an awesome miracle where we fixed a rdv with this guy who was walking by. We tried to fix plans with some of the amis that I was teaching when I was there, but they all fell through. So I guess next time it will happen. But then on Friday we stayed and had interviews and Zone Conference with president. President has been having this round of zone conferences in some of the cities that are not visited as much as so he did it in Toulon, so that was cool. We had really cool guest speaker named Brother Hyde. He was super great and gave such great little discourse. 

Then I got back to Nice that night and we drove back with the Burton Couple who came down from Clermont Ferrand so that was great to get to better know them since they are replacing the Brias. We then got to see Rolland on Saturday (and he came to church on SUNDAY!!) which was so great! He really opened up about a lot of problems that he has been going through. It was great to be able help him!

Well again out of time!

Love you
Elder Pettingill

Also, from a letter we received:  

I have been super excited to be in Nice. It is so pretty here and sunny.  There are so many tourists here so it is cool to be able to meet lots of Italians, Americans, Germans, and so forth. Another blessing of being in Nice is that we get to build up our capacity to avoid pornography!

It is pretty fun being with Elder Davis because he is a really good missionary and so he has been teaching me a lot. Something I realized about being ZL is that it does not make you some great missionary or make you live on some high level that is crazy impossible, but really I am still the same old Elder I was in Lyon and need to work on the same old attributes (love, service, faith, diligence, patience). It seems like just that we have couple different responsibilities that allow us to serve more. We try a lot to not really even mention that we are the ZLs but instead just be normal and love. 

You asked how I feel about French now that I am relatively fluent.  I think that early on I just grew to love French and that has really helped.  It is a really great language.  I really love France and I feel kind of spoiled to be here with all the wonderful things that are happening in this mission.

First Mission Leadership Conference
Zone Conference in Nice

Hey! The church is true. (Katie-Angers)

What a week of ups and downs. Let me give you a quick update of Simone. She is amazing...absolutely incredible. I have met quite a few people truly prepared for the gospel, but she definitely makes it to the top of the list. She was able to come to church on Sunday, and she LOVED it. She loved it. She told us, "I have been to lots of churches, and yours is perfect. Peace, there is a peace here." Yes, Simone. Peace is right. And, because I got the wonderful opportunity to lead the music, I got to watch her face during the sacrament hymn...and I got to see the tears pouring down her face. What a miracle person. In a lesson the other day we were explaining about Joseph Smith and how he saw God the Father and His Son, and that the Godhead is God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, to which she asked this question:

"Wait...so what exactly is the Holy Ghost? You talk about it like it is a person...but I thought it was just God's love?"

So we explained to her who the Holy Ghost is and his role in our lives. And then all during church she would say things like, "Oh, yes, that feeling. Did you know that I learned that that is the Holy Ghost!" or "Hey, that's the Holy Ghost I'm feeling!" She is like a child learning this gospel, and it is beautiful to watch.

Wanna hear a story? It was seriously like a movie. So we're heading towards the tram to take it to the church for a split night with some members, and it was HOT. Then suddenly we see cars passing by us...and they are soaked. Like sopping wet. We just kind of look at each other, and then we look further down and see the rain POURING down probably 200 yards from where we were standing. It was weird. So we're standing there, holding our fingers up ready to press the button to open the tram door, getting ansy as we watch the rain come closer and closer...then giant rain drops start falling and the rain just drops right as we get on the tram. Whaaaaat. As we're on this tram, the doors open at every stop and there is this awful hail storm - the worst I've ever seen - is going on outside. And then it gets to our stop...so we decide to go for it. And after about 3 sprinting steps, we are completely drenched. Like DRENCHED. So we walked the rest of the way to the church...and then a member took us home to change. It was crazy.

Unfortunately, my lovely companion received a not so lovely cold from all of this...but besides that it was a well worth it experience. ;)

Anyway, just know that I know that the gospel is true. Keep up all of the great missionary work, and never forget how much Heavenly Father loves each of us. Thanks for all of the support, and keep praying for them miracles, cause they're coming! Have a fantastic week.

Gros bisous!
Soeur Pettingill

PS We also went to le Château d'Angers last monday, so here are some of those pics. And one of the evidence of God's existance shining through the clouds. :)
I'm on top the world, EH! Oh no wait, it's just a castle. #nbd

Monday, July 21, 2014

Wisdom in me (Katie-Angers)

Hello friends!

I have been incredibly blessed on my mission to have been surrounded by wise, wise people. And this transfer is no exception.

In a lot of ways this week was very hard. I mean, it was SO hot for 3 days in a row, and one of those days we spent porting...and porting...and porting...and no success. Can we say sunburn? Can we say discouraging? Yes, we can say those things. And both me and my companion had a hard time understanding why, after prayers and promises and efforts, Heavenly Father would just drop us like an egg. It seemed...hard to understand. And to top it all off, we had a man tell us the meanest thing anybody has ever said to me before, something that broke my heart at the hardness of his. That was a rough moment for both of us.

And then, do you know what Heavenly Father decided to teach us? "It is wisdom in Me, ok?" He taught us how to rely on Him, and really plead with all of our hearts for understanding and for help. And then He gave us miracles and tender mercies and then some more miracles and then some more tender mercies. This last week has been one of the most spiritually enlightening weeks of my entire mission. Let me tell you about Simone, the one that sticks out the most in my mind.

SHE called US. She had some really hard things happen to her as child, and as a result, she carries a lot of burdens. And she wants out. She has a friend who tells her all of the time, go and find the missionaries! She probably repeated the full name of the church to us 30 times in one phone call. And she is so ready to receive the gospel. She has told us several times that she has a mental handicap that restricts her ability to remember, unless it has anything to do with reading the scriptures. The first time we gave her a LdM, we asked her to read the intro. She read the intro, the testimonies, and the first 4 chapters. She noticed the footnotes and USED them, and she noticed and used the index in the back. Then she proceeded to describe the details of the story, then ask a question, then answer that question with something else she remembers from the chapter. Um hello, someone wants to know this book. What a beautiful experience.

To add to the "I'm surrounded by wise people" thing, Soeur Wynn is one of the wisest people I know. The things she says...touch my heart every time. I love her. We have miracles because of her faith...although I'm trying my best to contribute a little too. She just manages to be so incredibly sincere in all that she does. It amazes me. And all of her experiences, all of the wisdom that she has accumulated in these past 17 months, she shares with me. And I learn. A lot. It's a wonderful trade ;)

We also got to see so many beautiful things, and I'm talking like literally, BEAUTIFUL things. Referring to the pictures below, we accomplished one of soeur Wynn's (literal) dreams. We ate vanilla ice cream topped with hot kettle corn. it was delicious. We also randomly stumbled upon le Château à motte, one of the oldest castles in the history of Europe. It kind of looks like the indians built it, honestly. But still cool :) Remember in the princess movies the frogs sit on lily pads? Like literally, they do. I just about died when I saw this. We also passed by one of the most beautiful cathedrales I've ever been in. Incredible. And then finally, walking home one day, we decided to walk along the lake. You can see Château d'Angers in the picture, with the lake below and SWANS sitting on the lake! Magical Swan Lake. At a castle. No joke.

Basically I have never had such a strong testimony that God lives. I know that He gives us hard things to make us strong because we need to be strong if we are going to be like Him one day. But then He also gives us beautiful things, to remind us that He LOVES us. And He does. He is so wise.

Have a great week :)
Soeur Katie Pettingill

Family home evening with the Bishop and family

Crazy Week (Jacob-Nice)

Elders at Bastille Day celebration
Well this week was full of amazing miracles and lots of train!  We had a nice intense Pday that was super awesome and we got to relax a little and at the end watched the fireworks which was super cool! They were not quite as great as the American fireworks (by the way the fireworks are for Bastille day July 14) and President said that we could stay out late and then sleep in. We watched the fireworks on the beaches of Nice which was super cool. Although the beaches are basically just tons of large stones so I dont know why anyone would want to go to them in the day! 

But then on Tuesday we had some really awesome lessons with less actives and Roland! We slept in surprisingly until about 9h30 (I thought I wouldn't be able to do it because at Christmas I wasn't able to sleep in at all).  Then we headed out and went to this super cool less active named Edwyn who is pretty sick and so that is keeping him from coming to church! We had a great lesson and then fixed plans to meet his friends for tomorrow having a picnic and then hopefully we will be able to teach him! That will be super cool!  

Then later we taught Roland and he accepted a baptismal date for August 9th! It was super awesome and he is so ready! We are praying so hard that he will be ready and will receive the answer that it is true! We saw him last night and it was great! He had a lot of questions about prayer because he is not very used to saying prayers and he didn't really understand the reason that we pray! So that was cool to see that he had those questions! But then later we saw another less active named Edvin who is super cool! He is normally from Albany but has been living here since 14 years! 

Then the travel hit. We hopped on a train on Wednesday for mission leadership council in Lyon and then got back in Nice Friday afternoon with just enough time to prepare for zone training and then went to Antibes for Zone Training on Saturday morning and then had a great weekend! 

Antibes panoramic view
One miracle was that while I was still in Lyon I had set the goal that I wanted to find one person that lived in Nice that I could teach and hopefully baptize in Nice. So we worked really hard but found nobody from Nice! But on Saturday the Lyon Zone leaders sent us a coordonees (referral) that had been contacted over a year ago and they had fixed a rdv for Saturday and they called to confirm and they found out that the person lived in NICE! So we got back from zone training and taught Francis our amazing new ami that has such strong faith in Christ! The lesson was amazing and we were walking up to his door to teach him and then this young adult from the ward just happened to be walking by and so joined us for the lesson!!!! Francis is so great and he is Catholic but really feels like there is something more out there!!!!!

I love the gospel and love Nice and France!
I love you so much!
Elder Pettingill

Elders at Zone Training 

View from the apartment

Monday, July 14, 2014

NICE (Jacob-Nice)

Well I am all settled in here in Nice and I am absolutely loving it! The weather here is so nice! (It is sunny but also there is a nice breeze coming around town that keeps things a little cooler than normal.) Nice is such a beautiful town and has a ton a statues! I think that maybe the south of the mission is just the best part to be in! 

Elder Davis is such a good companion and has taught me so much more than you can imagine! He is only in his 7th transfer but is already a darn good missionary! He has done just amazing preparation (it seems to me) for his mission. He speaks really good french which is great! He was valedictorian and has a full ride scholarship to BYU already (I know he probably would not want me to brag about him, but I will do it to you anyway.) He played tennis in high school and we went running 3 times this week along with a 1 mile run this morning that we are going to use in order to create a fitness plan for the transfer. We were really motivated when we found out that Elder Bria (who is over 70 yrs old) does 3 sets of 125 pushups every morning and can do 8-10 pullups. So we figure if he can do that then we should also at least match him! But anyway Elder Davis also apparently plays the piano very well but I have not been yet so blessed to hear that from him! He also can say 'Jesus loves you' in almost 10 languages (about). Although he may seem intense he also knows how to laugh and we have been getting more comfortable everyday!

As far as our investigators here in Nice, we have one really progressing ami Roland. He is absolutely crazy. Someone in his family is very very rich and they are out of town for a while so basically he lives in this super nice villa on a hill in Nice overlooking all of the Méditerranéenne ocean! He came to church this last week. Basically he is an ami that Elder Davis and his old companion found last transfer and they haven't been able to see him that much other than 2 other times where they had really good Rdvs and were able to also create some really good friendships with the members!

The ward here is absolutely amazing! There are tons of young adults and they have so many activities that help the young people stay nice and active! One young adult set up to play soccer twice a week which is super fun and we have had a less active coming to that with his non-member son who came to church and apparently loved it!! We are hoping to be able to bring him to baptism before the end of the transfer and also his younger brother who is not a member! Their names are Albon and Maël. Albon is super great and is just full of love! Another couple people with whom we are working include Edwin and Edvin! They are less-active and Edvin came to church on Sunday which was super cool! Elder Bria made him promise to come to church 6 weeks in a row and hopefully he keeps to it!

Also to mention the Brias, it is going to be sad to lose them to Corsica this weekend! They gave wonderful goodbye talks! It is fun because here in Nice all the members are all very, very rich but also a lot of them speak English and not French (which makes me laugh) and so the missionaries (usually us) get to use a microphone to translate for all of those members. They all have headsets! It is great french practice and very fun! 

Well I love you so much everyone!!

Elder Pettingill

Bastille Day Celebration with the Brias

At the Brias with Elder Davis 
With his trainer and his parents when he was traveling the mission
Previous District
With Katie's MTC companion

God is good (Katie-Angers)

God is so good. Let me tell you a little bit about the relationship I have with Heavenly Father really quick.

A conversation we may or may not have had at the beginning of my mission:
Me: "Heavenly Father, I'd really love to go to a beautiful French ville if that's okay."
HF: "How about Mulhouse?"

Little did I know that He would be answering that very prayer 7 transfers later because that is where I am. Angers is BEAUTIFUL. The ward yesterday...beautiful. So many youth and children and families...as much as I absolutely love Toul, I didn't realize how much I had missed just being around people. Lots of people.

Here are some fun things about Angers:
-The bishop is from Scotland, and I literally can't tell the difference between when he is speaking english or french
-There is a castle
-It's cold and rainy and it's july (although I think that's just France)
-There are trams and buses normal kid style
-There aren't very many muslims
-I'm extremely hungry all of the time again...maybe it's all of the walking?
-We live right smack in the middle of centreville which means late-night partiers on the weekends...but we have a fan and we keep the windows shut. So no big deal :)

Now let me tell you about my companion. I love her. Her name is Soeur Wynn, she speaks French like a french person, and she is absolutely wonderful. I have learned SO much from her in these past 4 days than I ever thought would be possible. She is so close to the Spirit, and SUCH an incredible missionary. And she will be finished with her mission in 6 weeks...which makes me sad. I want to keep her. Weird? Probably. I am so grateful for the gospel, for missions, and for everything. Hahaha literally in my prayers, "Heavenly Father, thank you for EVERYTHING." I have such a strong testimony of prayer and of the Atonement.

This Sunday was one of the most spiritually uplifting meetings I've ever attended on my mission...we taught the 16/17 year olds about how we can remember Jesus Christ like we promised in our baptismal covenant. This lesson touched me. I realized that I don't remember the Savior as much as I could, and I'm a missionary. So we talked about the talk "O, Remember, Remember" by Président Eyring and how all we need to do is recognize God's hand in our lives. That is remembering. And so that is what I have been working on. And it has changed my life.

God is so good.

I don't have a lot of time, but I want each of you to know that I LOVE being a missionary. It is so hard. But it is so worth it. And I love it. And I love you :)

Have a wonderful week!
Soeur Katie Pettingill
Last picture with my dear soeur Johns
Angers :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

MIRACLES. yes,it's a thing. (Katie-Toul)

Hello everybody,

How's it going? Man, it feels like it's been awhile since I was last at this computer. NOT. /never. But, apparently an entire week has passed, so let me tell you about all of the incredible miracles we saw.

Slauco did indeed get baptized. And yesterday afternoon, he was asking us how much he is supposed to be reading in the BoM each day. We finally decided on a chapter a day. Then he looked at us and said, "But what if I want to read more?" Haha, whatever you want buddy. He's so great. He brought both his parents and two friends to his baptism on Sunday. Get this, we told them to be to the church at 9:15 (church starts at 9:30 here), and they were there chatting with a member of the Branch Presidency before WE even got there, meaning before 9:00. Silly humans :) But anyway, it was beautiful. He told us the day before that he was really nervous because he has a bad back, and bending backwards into water (which he also doesn't like), really scared him. But in the end, he did it. After him and Frère (Brother) Pagot got out of the water, I looked over at his mom...to see her crying. Just standing there, tears streaming down her face. I went over to her and asked her why she was crying (keep in mind that she actually only speaks Spanish and Romanian), and she just touched her hand to her heart and looked at me with the most piercing eyes. I (now keep in mind that I speak ZERO Spanish) then said, with a thumbs up, "bueno?" She kind of laughed a little, and then nodded a lot. We both smiled. :) It was a beautiful experience.

Something else neat about this Sunday...I will tell you. On a normal Sunday we have about 35 members at church. On a good Sunday that number gets up to about 40. This Sunday we had 51 members present at church. MIRACLE. 11 of them were our people. A man who was baptized 17 years ago in Nancy came with Loïc; he just happens to be the husband of Loïc's cousin. He told me afterwards that he missed this. He hasn't felt this good in a long, long time. And he's most definitely coming next week :) Also, Slauco's dad is a member. Cool, huh? He was baptized 10 years ago in Spain. He really loved the meetings too. I am seeing MIRACLES happen here!

And nope, even with all of these Spanish speaking amis, I don't know Spanish anymore than I did before. Haha, except! I can say the name of the church in Spanish. So that's a start I suppose! 

Speaking of miracles, guess where I'm being transferred. No, guess. No really. Guess. OKAY FINE. I'm going to the lovely ville of...Angers (not pronounced how you think -- "ahn-jay")!! This is cool because it is actually where Président and Soeur Poznanski are from originally, and so I will have the chance to work with them and their daughter who just came home from her mission. :) I feel so blessed to be able to go there, even though Soeur Johns is probably going to have to drag me kicking and screaming to the gare... I just love Toul a lot, okay.

Some other important things that happened this week: 

We were able to see the behind the scenes of my very favorite bakery of all time!! He just took us back. It's hot back there. 

A man sang and played us a song about a house in San Francisco. 

We met the cat of one of our members...the wife said as I noticed it, "C'est presque une vache!" (It's almost a cow!") I just about DIED laughing. I think I was the only one who thought it was funny, though.

I said goodbye to some of my very favorite people in the whole world...:/

I stood and stared in absolute AWE at this beautiful rainbow that came out right after a giant rain storm. 

So, sorry this is shorter than normal. Gotta go. But I love you (all of you)! Thank you for your prayers. They really, really work. 

Gros bisous!
Soeur Pettingill

Transfer Day (Jacob-Nice)

From Mom: We learned last week that Jacob is being tranferred to Nice (pronounced like niece) to be a Zone Leader. We learned today that his new companion was in Katie's district in the MTC.  Small world.  Katie is very excited, to say the least!
Jacob and Katie's MTC companion

Well its transfer day and I am not leaving for NICE until 4 pm so I have been hanging out doing tranfsers and a bunch of other different fun stuff like bringing missionaries to the gare (train station) and to the office and back. I also got to say goodbye to all the dying missionaries (including Elder Blythe who I gave a big hug). It has been long but very fun to see so many missionaries including Sister Pape (SR Pettingill's MTC companion) who ran up to me and announced who she was. So that was cool! I am super excited to get on the train though. 

This last week in Lyon was super great and we had our calls on Tuesday so I have been trying to prepare to go hit it hard in Nice since then. We had a great last district meeting. By the way, they are resplitting the district to Lyon and Clermont, so Elder Frost and Elder Marson will be the new district leaders. They are both also training which is going to be really good for Elder Frost because he is such a good missionary and he is going to grow so much with French and all that! But district meeting was super great and we had an awesome discussion together! We talked about personal conviction to the gospel and used Alma 5: 14, 26 and the base of that and then evalutated how to become more effective messangers of the gospel. I love the 4 questions given there and felt like I had prepared for myself. I feel like the way we can know that we are successful is by the deep abiding desire to participate in the gospel and all the aspects that are included and that as we daily look to have these feelings more deeply in our lives, the more we will be happy and content with our efforts.

The best part of the week was being able to do two baptismal interviews and then the baptisms on Saturday. It was really cool to be able to see the desire of 9 yr old Amand and 30 yrs old Arnaud to follow Christ. We had really good discussions and I love that! I felt like I was really the one who enjoyed the blessings of those experiences! Then on Saturday, there were 22 baptisms in the mission! We had 3 here in Lyon in the other wards and there are so many that will hopefully happen soon enough!!

The hardest part was that I got sick somehow and so had to lay in bed while Elder Frost did weekly planning on Saturday. I think it is just a cold but now I am feeling a lot better. Thank goodness I was being transferred so I had to pack everything up and was able to rest a little bit more. 

A really cool miracle that happened was when I was on an exchange with ELder Douglas in Clermont Ferrand. We were about to go inside around 20h45 (8:45 pm) and I was feeling pretty sick but we decided to just go out and have one more conversation and so we walked around the corner and talked to this super cool guy that is working over there! So we had a quick conversation and then fixed a time to meet him again and then went home! It was just another testimony that the Lord knows what he is doing and that as we trust Him and follow His commandments (even when we are sick and tired) he will bless us and make us strong. 

I am so excited to be able to go and have even more opportunities to serve. I know that the Lord is going to help me so much because I need it so much.  Je ressens plein d'amour pour mes collegues et tous les missionnaires ici.  (I feel full of love for my colleagues and all the missionaires here.) Je suis tellement reconnaissant pour ma mission. (I am so thankful for my mission.) Je sais que c'est tout pour lui que nous travaillons! (I know that is all for HIm that we work!) Alors soyons lui donc fidele. (So let's be faithful to Him!) Alors j'aime beaucoup être missionnaire!! (I love being a missionary!)
I love you all and hope you have an awesome transfer!

Elder Pettingill (caresse poisson) (cuddle fish)

New Nice missionaries