Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 2 Transfer 12 (Jacob-Nice)

Well this week went a little slower. We had an amazing lesson with Angelique who is progressing extremely well! She is always with Elton (the member) and so I think that is really what is making the difference! She brought her little sister to the lesson on Wednesday so that was super to be able to teach her. The best part was when Angelique essentially testified of how the restoration had helped her already! Kelly loved it and was super excited to have her own copy of the Book of Mormon! She is 15 and super excited! We will be seeing her on Wednesday (because here they get out of high school early so that is great!) Also I was talking to Elton and he said that their mom is super encouraging that they meet with us!! We fixed a baptismal date for Angelique for the 20 Dec because she has to change her hours for work (she put the letter in already but needs to wait for the change) so after that she can come to church and then be baptised. I am pretty worried that I will be transferred but I know that it is not my baptism at all. Its Angelique's, so I am just so grateful to have been able to see how Elton was able to be such an incredible member missionary! I love the gospel! I want to be a member missionary like him.

Other than that, we had a really cool miracle where we had 4 lessons planned for Sunday and were very excited because they were all super cool people ready for the gospel. Then what happened is that Sunday morning, one by one, all of them seemed to disappear! It was crazy because one after another cancelled after trying to confirm with each of them! So essentially we went to our back up plans and also started to make some other calls; and in the end I was able to get a hold of an ami that was previously on the phone and we went to teach her last night at 6. It was a super great lesson and she is super cool. She had actually been taught in 2011 and since then had attended many other churches and had even been a part of many church choirs. Well after a long period of preparation, she finally was ready for us. We taught her the restoration and set some expectations. The coolest part was that about a month ago she was thinking about how she could find better help to feel more peace and overcome some of the hard trials that were appearing in her life. She for some weird reason thought of Elizabeth Smart and how happy she seems now and how her family had helped so much! It was kind of awkward for Elder Smart at first because she was saying all this emphasizing that Elizabeth Smart was Mormon, but then she finished and Matt the member with whom we were teaching noticed that Elder Smart's last name is Smart and voila. (Elder Smart is Elizabeth Smart's younger brother).

Well this week is going to be awesome!

I love you! 

Elder Pettingill
Mission Council
Nice District before transfers

Because of Him (Katie-Belgium)

I love this church, and more importantly, I love this gospel. This week I have felt the enabling power of the Atonement. IT IS SO REAL.

Let me explain some things that happened this week...

I had my first two exchanges. Well it actually went like this: Tuesday-EXCHANGE, Wednesday-END OF EXCHANGE, Thursday-COOK CONFERENCE/EXCHANGE, Friday-FINISH EXCHANGE/WEEKLY PLANNING. It was stressful. But actually the point of this isn't to tell you how stressed out I am because it was honestly all worth it. But I just wanted to emphasize the stress (I also, as a mission credit card holder, had to buy all of the tickets for all of the Belgium missionaries for the conference plus metro tickets plus get to all of our trains on time including Thursday morning's at 6:13) because normal person Soeur Pettingill could not have done all of that alone. Maybe some people can, but I couldn't, especially with the added pressure of normal missionary work. But the entire week I pleaded for extra strength...and I felt it. Look! I'm alive! This is called the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

I read a scripture this morning that explains this week perfectly: 

Alma 58:37, "But, behold, it mattereth not--we trust God will deliver us, notwithstanding the weakness of our armies, yea, and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies." 

Notwithstanding MY weakness, God delivered me. And it was SO great! My first exchange as an STL was with Soeur Richardson, in her 3rd transfer and in an adorable small French ville called Valenciennes. She taught me, and I taught her and we just had a blast. And it was so inspired. I love exchanges. 

The conference was also SO inspired. For the first time since I'VE been a missionary, our entire mission came together in Versailles to hear Elder Cook speak. He is a wonderful man. He came with his wife, as well as President and Soeur Teixeira, our area Seventy president and his wife. Elder Cook left our mission with a lot of promises, but my favorite part was actually at the very end, during the closing song. We all sang "Oui, je crois en Christ." The Spirit was so incredibly strong as almost 300 missionaries, an apostle of the Lord, a mission President and area Seventy and their wives testified that WE BELIEVE IN CHRIST, and that His Atonement is real and personal. I promise (even if you don't believe me), I wasn't the only one crying. :)

Like I said, I love this church and I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that He lives. I love being a missionary, and I adore being an STL. And because of Him I feel strong and happy and loved (also Christmas is coming up, which helps of course).

If you haven't seen it yet (or if you have) go and watch this video and see how because of Christ lots of things are possible. 

And then check out our brand-new Christmas themed initiative "He is the Gift" at starting on November 28th (the first day of Christmas is the day after Thanksgiving according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). Sorry if that sounds like an advertisement. It's going to be super good :)

Soeur Katie Pettingill
grand-place in Brussels
i love belgium
my first gaufre! it was to die for
with my favorite human! I'm so blessed..
at the gare during our second exchange we found this thing that some kids had made. so of course we took a picture in it : )

Monday, November 17, 2014

La vie est belle (Katie-Belgium)

Can I just say that I have such a strong testimony of tender mercies. It's funny, Soeur Mangum and I were talking about how Heavenly Father ALWAYS answers prayers, even if it's not exactly what we were expecting. This week both of us have been exhausted which makes it hard to do work effectively, and yet we have seen so many little miracles, little answers to prayers, and HUGE tender mercies.

Maybe I'll just tell you a little bit about Belgium first. Well, I haven't actually had any gaufres (waffles) or chocolate or frites (fries), so call me crazy. But that's what today is for! However, I have been able to see a little bit of Brussels, and it is absolutely beautiful. Par contre (on the other hand), it looks nothing like France. It literally feels exactly like I just stepped into a different country...funny how that works. Everything is brick here, and there are so many pretty buildings squished together! I love it. Plus, Soeur Mangum is amazing. She's such a good example to me, and also it helps that all we do is laugh :) Being two old missionaries and both knowing sort of how to do stuff and speak french, we have a lot of fun and support each other, which is how a companionship should be! It's perfect. These next 3 and half weeks are going to be bliss, I can feel it.

Church yesterday was something I've never experienced before, and I've decided it just felt like I was a bleue again. You see, our ward has so many Spanish speakers that they have a group! So at 11, we start Sacrament meeting in Spanish. Then after that follows RS in French (ish) and Sunday school in French (African style), and then we end with our Sacrament meeting in French (except when one of the speakers is from Germany speaking English...). It was definitely something (as in I mostly didn't understand anything at all). But something I for sure know is that I already LOVE this ward. Sure, we currently don't have a bishop. But these are people who love Christ and are willing to serve Him. We are all united :)

Now, let me tell you my miracle. So we're walking down this street, looking for a less-active and just contacting everyone on the way, and each person that we talk to seems to be in a very grumpy mood for some reason. The problem was that we were SO tired from church and life and missionary stuff that contacting a bunch of grumpy people wasn't exactly appealing at that moment in time. But honestly, after trying to give a homeless lady a brochure (she looked sad!) and just having her yell at us that Jesus doesn't care, we were about ready to give up. So we said a prayer, and kept on going. With smiles on our faces, I contacted the next lady. Who was so kind! We were able to testify to her (which is sometimes all you need as a missionary) and give her a brochure, and she even gave us her number. It wasn't grandes choses, but it was a child of God, and exactly what we needed as an answer to our prayer.

La vie est belle (Life is beautiful)  :)

Soeur Pettingill
E and L met me at the gare (train station) before I left :(
last one together in the metro!
as a finding activity (it says to do it in PMG!!) we went to a morgue and left a BoM on a creepy chair in the creepy chapel they have there
from our window in Brussels
our chapel (notice the three different church signs....

Week 1 Transfer 12 (Jacob-Nice)

Well this week has been incredible. It was sad to say goodbye to Elder Davis but it is really awesome to work with Elder Smart. We both have a similar style of work so we push each other very well. We have had so many miracles this week. On Tuesday Elton a JA (young adult) in the ward called us and asked if we could be at the church the next day to teach one of his friends. We showed up the next day and taught Angelique! She is super elect! Elton had already taught her most of the restoration and she was working on getting her work hours changed so that she could come to church. So great. We fixed a baptismal date for the 20 december. We asked her for coordonees (referrals) and she told us that her sister really wants to meet us. We will be seeing both of them this Wednesday and reteaching the retab (abbreviated french word for the Restoration).

Another miracle. Last night we were walking out of the apartment and we contact this man, started a good conversation and started talking about his mother who is sick. He then just said that it was interesting that we should meet tonight because ,although he was not believing, he had just come from praying (specifically for his mother) for the first time in 15 years. He then explained the very personal and calming feelings that he had felt after praying and then we met 15 minutes later. At the end of the conversation after explaining some of the 10 points and prayer, He asked us if the prayer that he had offered earlier would function and if it would help his mother. It was amazing the sincerity and testimony of an atheist man that built my testimony so much of the love our Heavenly Father has for us and if we are truly sincere, He will help us.

Other than that this week went by very quickly! We had some fun contacting in the rain this week because it has been pretty wet here. But usually it is sunny for a couple days and then rainy for a couple...

We are headed up to Lyon today for leadership council so I will see Elder Davis tomorrow. I hope I stay in Nice for Christmas. Elder Smart is super awesome! We get along really well. He is very great! As far as staying together, Nice is so awesome and I really like it here. This transfer is already almost done because it is only 4 weeks so if I go then that would be sad.

Im any case, I love you so much!

Love, Elder Pettingill
Goodbye Elder Davis!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Transfer Week (Jacob-Nice)

But I am staying in Nice obviously!!! Elder Davis is headed to Ecully Ward in Lyon  (the one with President) to be ZL over there with Elder Baldwin. I will be receiving Elder Smart from Corsica later tonight. Elder Davis is already gone.. He was very sad. We went to see lots of members this last week so it was even harder as he kind of sealed the relationships. :) He is however excited to be in Lyon. Elder Smart was in Cannes when I was in Toulon. He was with the District Leader Elder Dean.  He is a really hard worker. I actually don't know much because I have only had little contacts with him at mission leadership council, or zone meetings, or district meetings, but everyone loves him.

Our district meeting was all about decisions and choosing, and it was funny because lately I have been thinking a lot about myself and how I am very indecisive. Serving with Elder Davis has really shown me a good example of someone who is very driven and picked his path and is striving for that. I want to be more like that. 

Also, we had a bunch of member visits this week and it was super awesome!!! On Wednesday we had an Italien member take us out to this fake American restaurant called Buffalo Grill! It was super great!!! But right before, we got there a little early and so we decided to do a little of contacting around the place. We were about to cross the street and I am standing next to this guy. I said hi and then BOOM all of a sudden we were talking all about church. He is from Romania and came here to find some work (but this is a real Romanian not a gypsy) and essentially we had a great conversation. But unfortunately he did not have a phone so we invited him to church! Well, we went through the rest of the week and it was great but then Sunday morning we went and caught our bus to go to church and two stops later, on gets this Romanian man!!! But to add to that, he was with a member! And it turns out they had met each other and the member invited him to church!! So awesome!!

Love you!!

Elder Pettingill

Opposition at its finest, yet God still wins (Katie-Angers)

So I've decided to learn spanish.


I mean, why not? I'll be in a district with 6 spanish-speaking Elders, might as well take advantage of this wonderful opportunity, no? So here goes.

Hola tout le monde (everyone) !

Haha that looks really weird. Anyway, I have been asked to serve as a Sister Training Leader in a different country. No, I'm not even kidding. On Wednesday nice and early, I will have the opportunity to meet my new collègue (companion) up in Paris, and we will head off to good ole Brussels, in Belgium! It still doesn't really feel real. But it is. I have an address and everything. I'm so humbled and excited to be able to do even more for the Lord.

But as far as this week goes, my heart broke a little each time we saw a person I knew that I wouldn't be able to see before I leave this week. It's just so SAD, and I don't like it. But we got to see plenty of members and amis and humans that I just love. On Friday, however, was when we got the breaking news...

Mimi didn't get baptized this weekend. Let me just tell you, we have seen a lot of opposition against her baptism, but this weekend was far worse than anything I've ever seen before as far as opposition goes. She FINALLY got the rendezvous (appointment) she's been waiting for with a judge in order to get her kids back, which is such a blessing, but it also means that this weekend (without even giving her the choice) she was obligated to go away, out of Angers, to sleep with her kids and a social assistant as a test for 3 days. And she wasn't able to leave the apartment. She even told them that she had something very important on Sunday, and asked if they could just do the test next weekend, but they said no. My heart broke as she hysterically tried to explain everything to me on the phone and how she tried to change but couldn't. The spirit calmed me down so much, however, and we decided to change her baptism date to next Sunday. 

So yes, she is still getting baptized. And Ciwane, her little brother, came to church with us yesterday and stayed for the baptism and everything (it was a ward baptism)! I'm happy for her and I just feel so good about the whole thing. How's that for fighting back??

We also had the opportunity to go to Saumur and celebrate Emma's (amie) and FeiFei's (member) birthdays! It was absolutely beautiful. There's a castle there, but I only got half of it in the picture because the other half was under construction. But it is one of the most beautiful towns, and I felt very special and blessed to have just been able to see it! Plus, Asians are cool :)

Keep up the fantastic work, and keep on fighting back.

Con amor,
Soeur Katie Pettingill
final district photo, transfer 10
The castle in Saumur
Us in Saumur

Pozs and the goodbyes :(

Monday, November 3, 2014

Just keep fighting (Katie-Angers)

Bonjour à tous!

Je veux juste commencer en disant (I just want to start by saying)...I love everything about life as a missionary. That doesn't mean that everything about missionary life is fun, simple, easy, happy, or enjoyable. But that's just life! It's mostly just how much I've learned that the Lord's hand is in every tiny aspect of our lives, and seeing His hand or even just recognizing it, brings me so much happiness and hope. 

There is a quote in Preach My Gospel that, the first time I read it (meaning as a bleue) I wrote it down and stuck it up by the other pictures and stuff I have hanging above my desk. I've been trying to apply in my life ever since. I haven't quite gotten it down to perfection, but I'm improving every single day. You know, the whole "two steps forward, one step backwards" deal. Still imperfect, yet still improving. Anyway, so this quote says, "Forget yourself, and get lost in this great cause...Live the gospel of Jesus Christ." This week, I have really been trying to (well, especially trying to) apply this. How can I think less about myself? How can I truly live the gospel? How do I apply the principles of the gospel, the ones that I teach people about every single day, to my own personal life?

Mimi, our adorable amie, has been receiving more than a little opposition to her baptism next week. I've been thinking about this a lot because I couldn't decide whether it was a sign that she should wait, or opposition from Satan. Okay, duh Soeur Pettingill, someone doesn't want her to be baptized. That's a normal thing. But anyway, me being my imperfect self, I was doubting. She understands the gospel. She is applying the process of repentance in her life. She is learning, growing, becoming better. And Satan really doesn't like that, and he's making it really hard for us to teach her everything she needs to know before next week. But I've noticed that as I focus on living the gospel, I'm fighting back. 

It is an eternal truth that Satan will always be fighting against anything good in life, especially if it has anything to do with us making eternal covenants like baptism or an eternal marriage. We just have to FIGHT BACK. This entire week I've seen Satan fighting hard at me over and over and over...

Fernande's nephew committed suicide in the same way that her own son did.

Emma is on vacation for the next two weekends.

Mimi has a fever. Or a rdv that goes too long. Or the member family we're with doesn't let us teach our lesson.

Nadia is too busy.

So we've been try our hardest to fight back by throwing giant bricks at Satan's face. We serve. We bring them cookies. We buy their groceries. We send them notes to let them know that they're loved. And as I live the gospel, as I fight back with everything that I have, I'm forgetting myself. I'm finally thinking less about myself. And it brings me so much HAPPINESS. Satan will always be fighting, but so will I. Thank goodness Heavenly Father gave us everything we need to win :)

Also, tomorrow means I've been a missionary for 14 months...? 

Soeur Katie Pettingill
we also had the opportunity to pick up my carte de sèjour (yay for being legal!) in Paris. Which of course meant a pain aux raisins (for you, Mom)

 cool new 10 euro bill
last pday was sunny, so we decided to profiter and visited the castle :)
 the eiffel tower (including the people selling mini eiffel towers just under it)
we also celebrated Halloween with our mini pumpkin and americanish pâtisseries
These were put up the day of Halloween. Oh boy, it's starting!

Love (Jacob-Nice)