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!

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