Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 4 (Jacob-Nice)

You are really brave, did you know that? (Katie-Angers)

Can I just say that I am so grateful for every single moment that the Spirit testifies to me that this gospel is true. Because it is. That's why I'm here. 

So can we talk about this whole time change thing? Yes, I enjoyed the extra hour, kind of, of sleep that I got. Except for that moment when I woke up at 5:30 (what used to be 6:30) and my body yelled, "GET UP IT'S TIME TO GET UP!" No what stop huh noooooooo. So much for an extra hour of sleep. Unfortunately, also with this time change comes an earlier descending of the darkness, and as a missionary, that isn't necessarily preferred. I'm pretty sure people in France see the dark night and think to themselves, "Bed time!" No, not bed time. It's like 6:00. You don't even eat dinner until like 8... But anyway, we were doing some good old knocking around (you know, on the doors) last night, and we had a very sweet moment with a lady who, from what the spirit let me in on, just had her husband leave her and her 2 year old daughter with no house, no job, no money, and is now living with her parents in a time of desperate need. The sweet spirit that was there during the prayer that we left with her stayed with me all through the night, and even though it was dark and cold and dark, I felt so happy. She, her name is Florina, actually said something else that really touched me:

"You girls are really brave, did you know that? It's dark out there. No one wants to be out in the dark right now. You must really know it's true, huh?"

Yes, I really do. And I hadn't ever really thought about the fact that us, as members of Christ's church, are each doing just that. We leave our places of warmth and refuge, and we go out into the darkness. And all because we really know it's true, and we really know that what we have provides a light, lighting the way to that place of warmth where Christ is waiting. It's all kind of beautiful in my mind. 

What I learned from this experience is that I don't ever need to be afraid. We do things all the day long that are scary and weird and awkward and uncomfortable that any normal person would never ever do. And sometimes I don't want to do them. But now, whenever I walk down a path that seems dimly lit and a little sketchy and think to myself, "What the heck are you doing?!" I stop. And I remember those sweet words of Florina telling me, "Vous êtes courageuse, est-ce que vous saviez ça?" And then I remember that I am brave. Why? Because I have the coolest body guard on my side--one who will never lead me astray; one who will always protect me no matter what; one who knows how to see, even in the dark.

And we all have Christ by our sides. I know very well that the gospel of Jesus Christ sometimes requires us to do things that are scary, and we're unsure or awkward or uncomfortable and we ask ourselves, "Why the heck am I doing this?!" Do you know what I'm going to say? 

"You are really brave, did you know that?" And then I'll remember why.

I love you all so much! Have a fantastic week :)

Soeur Katie Pettingill

our awesome chinese soirée familiale with our amie and a member :)
this is what this man decides to do to celebrate les vacances. :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Like stones in a river (Katie-Angers)

Dear everyone,

This week was about as up-and-down as the weather was (which was a lot). Angers was like, "Oh let's make it rain! Or let's be sunny and warm! Nope, fog sounds good to me!" All week long. But hey, no complaining. It's fall, right?

Anyway, we had something happen this week that changed the entire course of my mission (this is where the whole up-and-down thing comes in): INTERVIEWS. I've had interviews enough times on my mission, but this time was different. President asked a lot about my spiritual health, and I feel like spiritually I'm up and running! But we talked a little bit about my physical health, and I expressed some concerns and how all I want is to be able to work top notch until I'm done. And then he connected something that I had never realized before--my physical health is actually connected to my spiritual health. We were able to uncover some reasons for why physically, I was having some trouble, and make plans to fix these problems. What was interesting was that he took the question that I asked him, and turned it into something completely different than I originally thought!

And it all came down to how well my comp and I plan at night.

Nope, definitely wasn't expecting that one. President told me that planning is an opportunity each night to receive personal revelation with which Heavenly Father will tell us exactly where we need to be the next day and who we need to talk with. Each night is, or should be, a spiritual experience. He explained to me about the danger of habits in missionary work, and how planning can become a habit, but it never should be. I can honestly say that I am not a bad planner. But I can also say that I have never thought about how incredibly essential planning well is.

Later during personal studies, I read 2 Nephi 32:8, which talks about the importance of praying before we do anything. Ok, let me apply this to first my current life, then my after-life (after mission life I should say). If I do everything that I need to be doing by first asking the Lord's advice, He will guide me to where I need to be. This applies to each and every one of us, actually. Who doesn't want to be guided by the Lord? I certainly do. And voilà my personal reflections for the week. In applying this new-found tool for doing missionary work (a tool that I've only been half-using my entire mission), I have seen God's hand clearer than ever before.

It's still a little rough around the edges, but you know what they say about stones in rivers, and how sometimes we need to be tossed around a little before we become all shiny and smooth. Eternal truth, that is.

Last Monday, we went to a beautiful cemetery. During this week, I got to see two of my very favorite sisters, and enjoyed the beautiful fall trees. Unfortunately, I had to change my SD card because I ran out of space and I completely forgot to bring the old one, so I'll send you more pictures next week. For now, here's a tree. :)

Have a fantastic week!
Soeur Katie Pettingill

Week 3 (Jacob-Nice)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 2 (Jacob-Nice)

Well it was a very quick week and I am also getting bad at calculating emails so it will be a quick email as well.

Just to re highlight General Conference! Very Great!

Monday through Wednesday we were in Lyon so that was fun and we got back just in time for Zone Training. In Lyon we found out that we will be going to Geneva, Switzerland this Transfer as well.  

For Zone Training we talked a lot about the Book of Alma. We discussed how the Stripling Warriors came to be and thusly went backwards all the way back to where Alma and the Sons of Mosiah remeet each other before heading back out. The amazing preparation they did and the desires that they had to help their brethren was amazing! They understood how important was their call and they were and did so many great things! 

At the end we all made a Title of Liberty and covenanted together to become more invested as missionaries and to rise to a new level of commitment.

I am so grateful for the covenants I have been able to make with the Lord through baptism. I know the Lord responds and blesses us according to our faithfulness. 

I got the package today! The cinnamon rolls were amazing! I threw the frosting together really fast and then after we had deep cleaned the apartment for our inspection this next week, we threw the frosting on and ate them! Very good!! I found out that apparently making cinnamon rolls for Christmas and conference is not just our family tradition but that there are actually tons of families that do it!! (eg; Elder Davis' family)

We are having a national holiday this week as well! It is actually called a strike... So basically the entire country of France (transportation) so all the buses and trams and trains are all shut down..... That is going to be very fun! 
I love the Gospel. It is a wonderful opportunity to be a member of the church right now. 

I love you all,

Elder Pettingill (The First)
Elder Pettingill and Elder Davis teaching at Zone Training on Skype to the missionaries in Corsica

when darkness reaches in (Katie-Angers)

This week is going to be a little bit different. I'm going to share with you an incredible experience with you all that is going to be absolutely random and nothing at all like all of those other "big miracles" that we talk about in missionary work. This was personalized just for me.

A little while ago, we met this adorable girl named Gladys. We had a rendezvous (appointment) with her just the other day, and found out that she is Témoin de Jehovah (Jehovah's Witness), but because she is so young and inexperienced, she isn't allowed to meet with us unless she has her darling friend, Isabelle, who has been preaching TJ doctrine for 40 years (if you're not good at math, that's twice as long as I have been alive). Scared to death but praying with all our hearts for the sincerity that brings the Spirit, we began to teach the Rétablissement (Restoration) to these daughters of our Heavenly Father. We finally got to the end, where we invited them with more love and sincerity than I have ever before been able to muster to pray and ask God if Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. We then described the feelings that we can get in response to our question, and how we can feel the truth of our message through the power of the Holy Ghost. 

Gladys' friend responded simply with, "But where is the proof in the Bible? One cannot base his entire conviction on a feeling in his heart." 

This shook me. This tore at my soul because I honestly had no response. What do you say to someone who believes that an answer from the Holy Ghost has no merit? So we left. And I left with a broken heart. This experience bothered me all the rest of the day and into the night. I laid in bed thinking about this, wondering what I did wrong. Did they not feel the spirit? Do they not believe in revelation from God? What could I have done better to help them better understand? I felt so broken inside.

During studies the next morning, I prayed sincerely asking for help. I didn't have any other words because I didn't really know what I was looking for, but I just kept asking Heavenly Father to help me understand. Then I opened to where I had been reading in the Book of Mormon and proceeded to read first verse 1, then 2, and then I got to verse 3 of 2 Nephi chapter 28:

 For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other: Behold, I, I am the Lord’s; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord’s; and thus shall every one say that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord—

This caught my attention, and I thought to myself, Uh, okay Heavenly Father I'm ready for whatever it is you're going to say. And then I continued on to verse 4:

 And they shall contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance.

This is my miracle. I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers, but more importantly, I KNOW that this church is true. How do I know this? I've prayed, and I've asked, and I have felt the power of the Holy Ghost witnessing to me that it is true. I learned an important lesson through this experience: The world is changing. People are now questioning even my simple testimony. But what does this change for me? Nothing. I will continue to teach all who will listen, and my testimony stands strong. I love being a missionary, but even more than that, I love KNOWING that this gospel is from God. If you have a question, ask. If you have a doubt, face it. If you aren't sure, than become sure. Because that is the test of life. 

I hope that each of you feels the strength and the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as I did in this moment. And I hope that you all have a fantastic week. I know I will :)

With all my love and prayers and concern,
Soeur Katie Pettingill
my umbrella broke...oops!
exchanges with my twinner Soeur Barton :)
I got a pink donut. you gotta cave when your stomach craves

Monday, October 6, 2014

O soleil, céleste flamme...(Katie-Angers)

So I'm sitting here at the computer at the church, FREEZING, because it suddenly decided to get really cold and rain all in one day. What happened to my beautiful fall weather where it was always sunny but not hot?!?! Welcome to the start of October, I suppose.

But anyway, it was a super great week this week. Soeur Farmer and I are tearing it up over here in the beautiful, absolutely enchanting ville of Angers. We were talking about it, and I was saying how missions are so fun because we literally do the same exact thing every single day, and yet every single day is so different. It's craziness. And I love it. 

We had a very beautiful moment with our amie Mimi this week. She is a fiesty black woman who knows who she is and what she is doing in life. And she CRACKS. ME. UP. So like one moment we're all dying laughing, and then the next we're having this absolutely spiritually uplifting moment that amazes me. She is so prepared. She told us this week (when I asked if she was able to read and pray about the BoM) that she reads in the Book of Mormon every single day (she actually has a hard time reading, so it's only a few verses at a time) and said a prayer asking if it was true. And she told us that she received an answer that it is true. Mimi looked straight at me said so seriously, "Ma soeur, est-ce que vous savez combien il est puissant, ce livre? Est-ce que vous savez?" This touched my soul. Do we truly understand the power of the Book of Mormon? The power that it has to heal broken hearts and broken lives? This book changes lives. Mimi, who just finished 1 Nephi chapter 1, recognized and felt the incredible power that it has. It is so true.

I'd also like to share with you another testimony that Heavenly Father watches over and loves each and every one of us, as individual people with individual lives and problems and heartaches. We had the opportunity to do splits on Thursday! Yay! But actually the funny thing is one of the members who was supposed to come with us cancelled last minute, so we went to the church with only one member. We figured we'd just go and have a lesson in the presence of a member. However, the Bishop (who is from Scotland) came and his daughter had to come with him for some reason. So, testing my chances and actually thinking she'd say no (she's got green hair and is very shy), I asked if she wanted to come. And she came! So I took her with me to go visit Mimi, and the spirit was so strong. Afterwards, Léa (this 14 year old scottish girl) told me of how strongly she had felt the spirit. It was wonderful. And now we're friends, and she wants to introduce me to her friend. Cool, huh?

What a beautiful gospel this is. 

Gros bisous!
Soeur Katie Pettingill
it's been exactly (to the hour) 6 weeks since I went and found Soeur Farmer in Paris!
we found this random farm thing in the middle of angers. Seriously so random
the Hand of the Lord quoi
lovely Angers :)

Week 1 Transfer 11 (Jacob-Nice)

Very good week. Elder Davis and I were able to take a nice week just to work really hard before all the different meetings and other fun stuff take away from the capacity to have a real full week. We did lots of fun stuff. One, we contacted to the border of Italy! We literally met a man and fixed a RDV and then the next guy we talked to spoke italien! It was very crazy! Fun little adventure! It is amazing here in Nice how wide wide varieties of people you meet!! Just in the actual city of Nice we find more English speakers often than French!

But luckily we find people that actually live here, otherwise we would have no one to teach! One of the awesome lessons we taught this week was to our family man the doctor. He is super cool and it was a miracle lesson because we had fixed a rdv for Wednesday, and then immediately started to look for a good solid member with whom we could teach this great lesson.. Unfortunately could not find anyone that was free for the time and date we had fixed!! But finally about 1 hour and a half before, we had the feeling to call one last member who we knew was working but decided to call anyway. Well it turns out that he dropped everything (he had tons of work, tons of family priorities, and plenty of other little worries) and came and taught with us! It was incredible! We were literally so grateful for a member who was so willing to sacrifice to come and push foward the work of the Lord! It probably could have been very easy for him to join all the other busy members and we would have taught our amis all alone, but he didn't, so we were blessed by his sacrifice! But anyway, we taught the lesson and after the member told us that he had forgotten to fast and was so doing that day.  To add, this family, after stake conference, had fixed a goal to pray for and have a missionary experience that week. He said that although he had not had a missionary opportunity of his own, he looked at our call as the opportunity that the Lord had given to him for the week, so when it came, he took it! 

I loved the example that he set and as Elder Cook was giving his talk in the Priesthood session, it brought to my mind the same experience. I loved his talk because he talked all about how many things there are in the world that distract us from reaching our true goals, and how often we know what our goals are but do not act in order to achieve these goals. He spoke of young men wanting to go on missions but spending their time playing video games and young adults wanting to get married in the temple but spending their time dating those who would not be temple worthy. I thought of this experience and how often the prayers we express to our Heavenly Father are the same, "Father, help me to have missionary experiences", and then we go about the week and do not recognize those that come to us. It helped me to realize how my prayers might need to change to lead me to change my actions rather that to just be a checklist like the groceries.

I really enjoyed all the many other conference talks that were given! I hope to be able to watch the last session (Sunday night) sometime and I cant wait for the Ensign! (Do you think you could send me a copy when they come out?)

I loved especially all the amazing testimonies given of living prophets and the Prophet Joseph Smith. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and the peace that it gives me when I read it. I know that the words given in general conference answer the questions that we ask ourselves, because I did it, and it worked. I know that God loves and cares about us. I know that Christ is Savior and Redeemer of the world.  I know that I have no more time, mais je vous aime (but I love you).

Con mi amor,

Elder Pettingill
Exchange with Elder Fritz