Monday, January 26, 2015

Libre à jamais (Katie-Belgium)

Bonjour à tous (Hello all)!

Well, as the final week of exchanges, it made for quite the sprint to the finish line. Can I just tell you all how much I LOVE exchanges?! I learn so much from the sisters in our area. Soeur Nielson and I often explain to people the real reason why we were called as STLs--we just need, like, 6 extra exchanges (besides the one we would do anyway) to learn from the best sisters in the mission. And it's so true.

This week I had the opportunity to stay in Brussels for two days! The soeurs from Lille and Villeneuve d'Ascq came, and I learned from two wonderful sisters. The first exchange just happened to fall on the second half of her birthday! So we fixed a couple of finding goals, and then prayed with all of the might that we could muster, and prayed with five beautiful people! I loved watching the eyes of my chère (dear) temporary companion. I don't think she thought that in just a couple of hours, Heavenly Father could make possible such an amazing miracle.

The next day brought an experience that actually brought me to tears. Soeur Hawkes and I were FREEZING. That's not a joke. It. Was. So. Cold. And the problem is that in our apartment, our heaters don't work really, so we were freezing in our house, which gave us no desire to go into the even colder freezing cold weather. I wasn't feeling super great, but language study was over. Which meant--time to go! So we buckled up, bundled up, and went outside, neither of us very happy about having to do so. However, inside myself I decided that for the next hour and a half that we had to do some contacting before lunch, I wanted to do this with a smile (maybe a frozen stiff smile, but a smile). So I turned and talked to the lady that was walking past us. She just kind of looked at me with this skeptical, almost laughing kind of an expression. At the end of my little spiel, I asked a question, to which she responded, "Sérieux? C'est du théâtre ou quoi? Vous êtes trop rigolos!" (Seriously? This is the theater or what? You are too funny!) Then she walked away.

Honestly, I was really hurt by this experience. I was really trying to be sincere! Fighting back tears, we kept going. The next lady passed, and this time Soeur Hawkes stopped her. She didn't speak a lot of french, but I was determined to help her understand who we are and why we're here. We found out she's muslim, but that she just lost her son a couple of weeks ago. My heart broke. I asked carefully if we could maybe say a prayer with her...I'm still not sure if she understood what I was asking, but she said yes. Soeur Hawkes then offered a beautiful, very sincere prayer. I opened my eyes, and they filled with tears at what I saw. This nice lady was sobbing! She just grabbed my arm and whispered over and over, "Merci, merci..." (Thank you, thank you) What an incredible miracle. I wasn't cold the whole rest of the day after that experience. :)

That little experience came back to my mind on Sunday during Relief Society when the sister who was giving the lesson taught me something very important that I will probably never forget. She said, while talking about free agency, 

"Life teaches us how to fall. The gospel teaches us to get back up. But it's always our choice whether we actually do." 

The gospel is marvelous! I love being a missionary. I love seeing people change, and seeing the hand of the Lord in my life every single day. He sent me angels this week. He sent me angels in the form of people I contacted, members of our ward, and missionaries (especially my companion). And I know that He will continue to send me them. I am so blessed. I love you all! Have a happy week, and remember that the Almighty God over earth and sky who created the vast Universe hears YOUR individual prayers. A neat thought, huh?

Gros bisous!
Sœur Katie Pettingill

PS. Sorry my camera died, so I didn't get any pictures uploaded. Next week, I promise!

Week 7 (Jacob-Montpellier)

Well this week went very, very fast! 

Monday night we went over to the family Beziers. They are super awesome and the dad is the 1st couselor in the bishopric. We had a wonderful family home evening! We talked about Mosiah 18:8-10. We discussed how the ordinance of baptism is a promise between us and our Heavenly Father that simply says that we are going to be delightful, loving, and serving people! I received a strong testimony of how the Holy Ghose can help us fulfill that promise, especially when we are weak, this week. We then fixed goals with their family for this year for missionary work! Their son Quentin, who reminds me a lot of Adam, took charge of the responsibility of helping the family concretize those goals and write them down.

Tuesday we went and did service at the family Roman's house; their house is coming along and is being painted on the inside. It was funny to see Brother and Sister Roman bicker about whether or not to throw certain things away that came from Grandpa Roman. It seemed like a situation that I may need to face later on in life when I am married.

Wednesday we had blitz in Narbonne!! It is officially the smallest city in the mission and is a side sector connected to the Beziers ward and sector. We had a wonderful time as we spent a good 6 hours proselyting! We found lots of new cool people and had tons of fun with Elder Whiting and Grant! One cool miracle was that Elder Whiting and I were out contacting and we saw this guy and started to talk to him; he was obviously not interested at all by the looks he gave us and by the fact that he said "je ne suis pas interessé" (I am not interested) We didn't catch the hint and just started to be delightful and he started to open up a little. We talked for a while and then slowly integrated the gospel back into the conversation. IN the end he accepted a Book of Mormon and we exchanged numbers! It was a huge testimony of the power of love! We should not ever get discouraged if people do not accept our invitations right away to learn about the Gospel! We should just put on a smile and love a little more and become interested in the lives of those around us. As we do that, there will be not one person that won't want to be a little more like us (because were so delightful). 

Then we stayed the night over and went to district meeting in Beziers on Thursday! We learned how to better set goals and be more delightful! I think they were trying to hint that we set a goal to be more delightful but I wasn't sure. In any case I studied PMG ch 6 as well and loved it as always! What better way to be more delightful than just try and have the attributes that Christ has! 

A motivating moment for Elder Thompson this week was that he realized that he hit his 6 month mark! When I hit mine I was super motivated to do more morning MANGOS but when he hit his he was finally behind me! So we decided to go running in the morning and try and find some stairs to run. We found a nice flight of stairs that is about a 5 minute run from the house. So we have been waking up just a little bit earlier at 6 am to run do that and also have time to get large afterwards as well with push ups and weights. That has been good!

Friday night we were invited to Sr Corrado's house; I think we SPARCed her up a lot because she definitely invited us over less than two weeks ago! In any case she has been telling us that she wanted to make us a Paella because she knows where to get fresh moules (clams), so voila she made us that BEST paella I have ever had (considering it was the first as well) and we ate very well. She is so cute because she was so worried that not everyone would like it and so during the meal she was asking us " Vous vous regalez?" or are you enjoying it? I must have said, "OH oui Je me regale trop!"( Oh yes I'm enjoying it too much!) probably 5 to 10 times during the night!

Saturday we saw Ajnes at her sisters house and she came to church. She wants to be baptised in the next couple of weeks so we are trying to get her ready for that!

Sunday was a great day. Rossil came to church at 9 am all by himself and stayed all three hours. There has been this been ordeal with the baptism Saturday because apparently here in the Toulouse Stake there is one Saturday a month that is set aside for families, meaning no activities. Well it turns out that this coming Saturday is that day. So the bishop was trying to see if we could move the baptism to another time so we could respect that. We tried but Rossil was so set on being baptised this Saturday that we are going to just go through with it (considering there aren't any other days that would work for him). He is great and we are going to go visit him later on today. We have the baptismal interview set for Thursday where he will get a back to back interviews with Elder Withers for Nimes and then the Bishop  to get to know him better). Sunday night we went the family Orsoni for dinner! They are so great! 

Also the stake president popped into Montpellier really fast Sunday night to give a recent convert lady her temple recommend interview for her endowments! It was so cool to see how happy she was and how much she has the light of Christ! She was only baptised like a  year ago so it is pretty incredible to see that she is getting there so fast!

Well I love you all so much and hope that everything is going well!!

à bientôt! (see you soon!)
Elder Pettingill 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Great! (Jacob-Montpellier)

Well this week was super awesome! We were pulled all over the place but it was still super! On Tuesday we had zone interviews so it was great to finally get another interview after almost 7 months (I guess it was fine since we had some great people like Elder Andersen, Elder Kearon, and David come to fill up the time). President gave a wonderful presentation and I really enjoyed how he talked about becoming a delightful people! We talked about Joseph in Egypt and how he was loved by all and how as we live the Gospel, we grow in the attributes of one who is loved. We looked at the attributes of Christ in chapter 6 in Preach my Gospel which was amazing! We talked all about how we need to continue to develop them! I have been really pushing to become more Christlike which has been hard but awesome! It is a push! It is going to be even harder when I have even more distraction to keep me from trying to live to be like Christ! But it will be awesome!

Wednesday morning we went over to the family Roman's house and did service for them! It was very interesting because basically we had to finish up taking the final small morcels off their walls from old wall paper. It took such patience and sometimes could be very discouraging! We were going at it with a paint roller dipped in hot water when Fr Roman came in and said "Qu'est-ce que vous faites là!" (What are you doing there?) then he explained that there was an easier way! He then showed us the hand steamer that concentrates stream into certain spots and helped us to accomplish the meticulous job much quicker! I guess that is kind of how Christ feels when we try to change without relying on him, All he wants to say is "What are you doing!? Didn't you know that I bled and died for you so it wouldn't be have to be so hard?" As we look to the Savior, he can help us change! 

Another fun experience was going to Perpignan on Thursday night to do a baptismal interview.. My companion did the interview but it was so awesome to see a recent convert pick us up at the train station, with his soon-to-be-member next door neighbor, and drive us to the church for the interview. It is such a testimony of the power of member missionary work! Julien, the man being baptised, may not have made it to that point if his fiery-for-the-gospel recent convert friend from downstairs had not opened his mouth and invited him to come and take upon him the yoke of Christ!! (which by the way is actually much easier that you would think!)

I love the Gospel! I know that Christ can change anyone and bring us so much joy!

Yesterday we got the joy of seeing our ami Rossil (who did not get the training) miraculously come to church, and even got there before us! He loved it so much and especially loved principles of the gospel! Apparently the idea of asking questions in a church class is completely strange for most Christians... He loved that everyone came to learn together and to push together! I guess the gospel is like that!!

One question we are going to be asking members (thanks to our motivated new DMP [ward mission leader] Frere Clark) that may be good to ask yourselves: This year what are you going to bring to the Ward Mission (of Folsom, Montpellier, etc)? Right now is the perfect time to reevaluate yearly goals for missionary work and to work for it! If you havent set goals maybe a good goal could be to bring 1 person to Gospel this year, and then start praying for how you might accomplish that goal (or just ask the missionaries and they will know) over the next 12 months.. And then invite the missionaries over, tell them your goal and have them do monthly (or more often if you need it) follow ups to be accountable! (Preach my Gospel chapter 8 is a great one if you need references!)

Well I love you all so much!! Vous êtes les meilleurs!!! (You are the best!!!)

Elder Pettingill
during January interviews

Just look around (Katie-Belgium)

Well everybody...last week is over. Even if I could describe to you all how fast we sprinted last week, I probably wouldn't. It was pretty fast. But that doesn't mean we didn't see some INCREDIBLE miracles along the way, all of which were well worth the run. 

We saw Landrine and Nicolas! Landrine was baptized exactly one year ago but has recently been very less-active, and when we went to pass by last week (well...I was on an exchange, so I wasn't actually there), her boy friend was there and described about how he is on the search for God and feels like there is "something missing" in his life. So we happily handed him a Book of Mormon of course. He and Landrine have come to church both last sunday and yesterday, and they are both slowly but surely learning and growing. It's amazing to see.

At one point during the few moments where Sœur Nielson and I were actually together, we went and taught a less-active named Joana who said something that absolutely made my day, but also gave me a lot to think about. After sharing a scripture about Christ, she began to teach us by asking us the question, 

"Jésus...c'est quoi aimer Jésus? Est-ce que vous savez, vous filles? C'est quoi aimer Jésus? Aimer Jésus c'est quitter la famille, le pays, la langue, les amis, les études. Aimer Jésus c'est oublier soi-même. Aimer Jésus c'est penser aux autres et faire du bien. Vous, vous aimez Jésus, et vous êtes très bénies. Saviez-vous ça?" (Jesus...what does it mean to love Jesus? Do you know, you girls? What is it to love Jesus? To love Jesus is to leave your family, your country, your language, your friends, your studies. To love Jesus is to forget yourself. To love Jesus is to think of others and to do good. You, you love Jesus and you are very blessed. Did you know that?)

It absolutely touched my heart. And do you know why? Because it isn't just me that loves Jesus. It is all of you. All of you missionaries. All of you faithful disciples of Christ. All of you. And I am so touched and blessed to be able to be surrounded by such incredible people with such amazing examples that teach me how to be a better person, missionary, and friend. What does it mean to love Jesus? It means keep on doing what He would do. I love the scripture in Matthew 25:40, which I read during studies this morning. How do we should Christ that we love Him? What can I possibly do more? How do I truly accept His Atonement? Just keep loving everyone else who surrounds us. Just keep loving.

Let me tell you why we sprinted this week. Three exchanges in four days makes for a lot of trains to catch, a lot of inspiration, a lot of learning, and is very mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausting. But in return, I feel SO incredibly uplifted and changed. All three of the exchanges (on my side of things) were with young missionaries in their third, second, and second transfers. I learned from Sœur Clawson's beautiful sincerity in the way she teaches, Sœur Proudfoots inspiring desire to work hard and find miracles, and Sœur Clark's sweet testimony that touched my heart. I love exchanges. I think Heavenly Father purposely gave me so many exchanges all the time because He knew that I would need A LOT of learning right before going home. Hah. 

What a beautiful week! I love being a missionary! Miracles are happening, guys. Just look around.

gros bisous et câlins!
Sœur Katie Pettingill 
my beautiful sœurs Clawson and Proudfoot in the middle of switching exchanges.
on our 4 hour travel to st. quentin, we grabbed some subway of course :)
Je vous présente Marie. One of my favorite people, and a member from st. quentin 
Us 4, time to say goodbye!

Monday, January 12, 2015

The darkness and the light (Katie-Belgium)

Well here we are: the end of an old week and the beginning of a new one.

Kind of poetic, aren't I? Hah.

Anyway, this week was absolutely incredible. Let's start with one of those good old "opposition in all things" comparison. Remember the tragedy that happened in Paris this week? We all got lots of texts about it and what to do in an emergency and everything and I'm sure LOTS of prayers were said for the victims and their families. That was a very dark, very sad low, and as a result, our dear President Babin was a little freaked out. All of these deaths, all of this terror happened on the 7 of january, 2015. Now let me show you how Heavenly Father opposed this terrible thing:

That very same day we taught 9 lessons, including one of the most miraculous lessons ever to have happened on my mission including a less-active and her boyfriend, who will now be taught by us. 

At conference call (all ZLs, STLs, and Assistants and President/his wife on the phone) today, one of the Assistants was talking about this very principal. Every time something tragic happens, there is something miraculous that mirrors it. Think about any time a temple was built, or the world does something particularly awful. There is always something to match the madness with beauty. And this week, with this awful tragedy that hurt and frightened so many people, our mission broke our record for the amount of lessons taught in a week. More lessons than our mission has ever taught in one week in the entire history of the France Paris Mission. How is that for some light in this darkness? 

I love seeing the Lord's hand in this work. This week we had 3 exchanges, and I was able to see how inspired each exchange was. I was able to watch the Lord support us when it got hard, and rejoice with us as the miracles poured in. What an incredible thing to watch. We reconnected with several less-actives, and even a few members. One member, recent convert of a little over a year, invited us over for dinner with her two brothers (they are all in their mid-twenties) and I saw the faith that she has. She is so strong. She defends the church and the gospel so well and so powerfully, even as every single person at work gets up for a smoking break except her, or as she is questionned over and over again about her decision to drink NO alcohol (non, même pas un tout petit peu). Her testimony strengthened my testimony, as well as my desire to see ALL of the members like her. All of the youth, all of the young adults, all of the families, standing steadfast and strong in the essence of the gospel. KEEP IT UP.

Well, I might as well add one other little experience. Last week, we met this girl named Camille on the street. She lived in California for a year and is actually from the south of France, so she speaks both French and English! Well, we ate lunch with her this week. She isn't actually believing, but she has this very spiritual view on life, all about nature and care-free (she's basically a hippy). Then she mentioned that she loves cooking, so we talked about that for a little bit. Then the conversation continued as follows:
S. Nielson: "What else do you like doing?"
Me: smiles encouragingly
Camille: "Well, I love swimming and...oh just so you know, I smoke weed."
~moment of potentially awkward silence~
S. Nielson and me at the same time: "Wow that's interesting!"
And then she continued on to tell us all of her arguments about why weed is good for you. Whatever, Camille. Honestly, I think this might be the first amie that I've taught who is totally hooked! It made for an interesting lesson, that's for sure. She really likes us, and is going to tell all of her friends about us though, so something good is totally going to come from this! ;)

Have a great week!
Sœur Katie Pettingill

Week ? (Jacob-Montpellier)

Well we are now here in the cybercafe a little later than normal because we had a couple lessons earlier on and so we had to move our schedule around. Today was an interesting one because with Soldes everything is on sale. So we spent a large part of the the early afternoon wandering around different malls in Montpellier. It was super fun but I realized that I am never going to be a big shopper.... as much as the French culture is intrigued by spending much time (and surprisingly large amounts of money considering the "sales"). I guess I have just been pounded with too many principles of self-reliance and money management... I still think to the video with Steve Martin that says.. If you dont have money for it.. DONT BUY IT!

But as far as this week.. It was a pretty good week. We decided that taking dinner was really putting a dent in our days because of the travel to and from the apartment so we decided to just bring something with us or buy something to supplement. That allowed us to truly maximize our time and seek the most miracles we could! And it worked! Because this week was a finding week we had set a goal to find as many new friends as possible! 

Ludivine is a young college student here in Montpellier who currently was attending a Christian assemblee and we were able to talk to her on the tram on Tuesday where we spoke of the Book of Mormon! She was pretty happy when we just gave her a copy, but she was ready to buy one. We had an incredible lesson yesterday at a member's house. She had been planning to be rebaptized with her family in the next year or so, but she is going to pray to see if Heavenly Father wants her to take that step a little sooner. She is coming to the church tomorrow after zone conference to help clean up dishes and then we are going to teach her! 

Laurent- Later Tuesday night we spent the night in a neighborhood outside of center ville. We had planned to find a certain amount of new amis and were one away from our goal.. We ported around and found out that porting is great from 6 to 8 pm. We talked to a lot of nice people, none of whom were interested in the Gospel but very nice people. It was almost 8 pm and we had not found any people to teach. The very last house on the road, we rang the doorbell and then saw a woman outside smoking on the front porch. We did not want to scare her because we were slightly hidden behind a hedge. Well we started to walk away when the husband came out  and we ran back to talk to him. He was super cool and very very nice. We quickly explained the Book of Mormon and what we were doing in France. He accepted a copy, we left him with a prayer and rdv for this week, and we ran to get our tram back home. 

On Friday we had several appointments set throughout the day. It turned out that all our RDVs fell through and so we spent essentially the entire day in a large open area talking to people on the road. We were not finding many fruits from the long hours of trying. We decided to just have energy and excitement until the end and we were happy. There were no miracles. Simply we worked, we were rejected, and we were happy.

We taught a very cool hypnotherapist this week who basically lives the Gospel but without Heavenly Father. He very open and already read 40 pages of the Book of Mormon. His name is Steve.

We saw Rossil tonight after a week or so because of vacation, He is doing very well. Please pray for him because this Wednesday he will know if he can do a training which will allow for him to come on Sundays and then be baptised on the 24th or 31st of January. He is excited for the baptism and does not seemed to be phased by any opposition, even from friends and family!

Well I guess other exciting news is that there is stomach flu going around so Sr Povar (the mission nurse) canceled and restricted any exchanges. So Elder Thompson and I got to be together for the whole week, and next week. 

Tomorrow we have zone conference/interviews with President so I am excited. I need to use them to the fullest since this will be either last or second to last before my "dying" interview.

Well I love you!!!

Elder Pettingill

P.S. You asked a couple questions in you letter that I got this week. What is the ward like? Well it is full of a mix of people. It is ward of about 95 a week at church which is great. We just got a new DMP who is Brother Clark the American, very exciting! There are not as many young adults as I had thought, because it is a very student centered town! There is only one ward, and it is a part of the Stake of Toulouse. Other surrounding wards include Bezier, Nimes, Carcassonne, and Perpignan (our zone). There are 6 missionaries here, Elder Adamson and Elder Peterson, and Sister Wolfe and Sister Shields. We do a lot of taking the trams and buses. Mostly trams which is the perfect place to talk to people. We also often walk a lot at night when the transportation slows down.The neighborhood where I live is GREAT! It is safe and secure, we have great neighbors and the sisters are teaching someone down the street! We tried to pass Anne-Charlotte (a friend's exchange student who now lives in Montpellier) but couldnt find her name on the sonnerie (doorbell). We are going to try again and ask the neighbors if they know her! 
Love you!!!
4 Elders eating dinner with members
missionary apartment

map with the missionaries who have served there
he received peanut butter for Christmas
Cool name tag picturesa

Monday, January 5, 2015

great week! (Jacob-Montpellier)

Well this week was primarily spent finding, eating at members, district meeting in Perpignan, eating more at member's houses, going to bed at 10:30 on New Year's, working on BYU essays and studying the gospel.

Some quotes I loved from "Our Personal Ministries" by Elder Martinez"As I have sought guidance during my service, I have found comfort in remembering that the Savior focuses on the individual and the family. His love and tender attention to the individual have taught me that He recognizes the great worth of each of Heavenly Father’s children and that it is essential for us to ensure that each individual is ministered to and strengthened by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The love of Jesus Christ must be our guide if we are to become aware of the needs of those we can help in some way. The teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ, show us the way. And that is how our personal ministry begins: discovering needs, then tending to them. As Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, said, “First observe, then serve.”3

I love you all so much!! You are the best!

Elder Pettingill
with members

Come what may and love it! (Katie-Belgium)

2015 is going to be such a good year. I can already tell. 

Can you believe that I left on my mission in 2013? It seems so long ago...and yet, it has been the fastest 16 months of my life. This week included.

There are several things that I was considering sharing with you. The first has to do with me. In case any of you didn't yet realize this, I am very far from perfection. Story to illustrate? So we get home from a long day on the streets, walk in the elevator door (we live on the 9th floor, so we didn't even consider taking the stairs), and both of us sigh and lean against the wall. Well, mostly me. That was the mistake. Soeur Nielson turns to me and says, " I have to go to the bathroom SO bad...will this elevator hurry up!" and then the elevator dramatically jerked to a stop. HUH?! Oops...I turned to her after a few really confused seconds and said, "I may or may not have leaned on the super big red stop button." Oops is right. Then, after pressing all of the buttons lots of times, having people yell to us through the door, we finally called the number in the elevator. The repair man would be there in 20 minutes, said the lady. Ohlala. ONE HOUR LATER, we stepped out of the elevator into our apartment. And the best part is Soeur Nielson didn't even pee her pants! Miracle if you ask me. ;)

Story number 2: We met the most incredible lady! Her name is Daphine (pronounced "daf-ih-nee"), and she has a little boy who is almost 2. So sweet. The rendezvous that we had this week is actually our second, but this one was really special because we got to her house and saw the English Book of Mormon that we had given her open next to her Bible. She then went on to tell us how she read the chapter that we asked her to read, and that she could feel the spirit and that it was definitely the Lord's book. She then went on to apply the chapter to her life, and shared with us all of her doubts and worries, and then testified to us of how constant the Lord is, and of how much He loves us. I learned a lot in that rdv. We're just hoping that the papers for her husband come through so that he can come join her here from Greece. :)

Okay, how about another little one. WE WENT TO PARIS. Just a quick overview of our New Year's adventure in Paris...we stopped by the famous lock bridge to stick one on for Soeur Nielson's best friend, then headed over to Notre Dame, since it's practically next door. I'm pretty sure the entire world was in Paris on New Year's...crazy. Then we left to go find l'Arc de Triomphe, which is so BIG and so incredibly beautiful. We couldn't help but walk down the Champs-Élysée on the way because it was closed off so people could actually walk on it. That was kind of neat. This of course gave us the desire to find Sacré Cœur, since I had never seen it, and in the process we got to take this giant diagonal elevator thing up to the top. We ended our adventures with the Eiffel Tour and Mcflurries before heading to the Paris soeurs' apartment (since when does Macdo have an elevator and automatic order machines??). Honestly, probably one of the most tiring days of my mission. But no complaints. :)

What a wonderful week. Hopefully this next one will even compare...non, je plaisante (I'm kidding). No comparing. ;) JE VOUS AIME TOUS. (I LOVE YOU ALL).

Soeur Katie Pettingill 
New year's partying with guacamole and european cheap version of martinelli's!
the lock bridge with notre dame :)

for you, mom :)
(In our Christmas skype, I told them that tags in creative settings are the big thing)
sacré cœur
eiffel tower on the hour at night :)
Macdo stop for mcflurries