Monday, February 23, 2015

"Attendez! Ils ont un caddie..." (Katie-Belgium)

What an AMAZING week that went by way too fast.

Let me start with church yesterday, and work my way backwards. Barbara came again! She just keeps telling us that she feels so good here, she just can't help coming back! And it was so wonderful. My dear little friend Irène gave the RS lesson. She's leaving on her mission the week after I leave here. The topic was the talk from last general conference about remember which way we face. She said something really neat that has become like a theme for this next week, I can just tell. We looked at the scripture in Matthew 22:37-39 that talks about the first and great commandment, which is to love God. The second is like unto it, love thy neighbor, as thyself. Then she had us read it backwards, so that the one that comes first is the last verse. If we are focusing all of our time on loving our neighbor, then we will be putting God first. Cool, huh? 

Also, I had to translate during Sacrament Meeting from French into English for two of the talks, and then from English to French for the other talk. Stressful...? Yep! :)

On Thursday we had our zone conference with the APs and President. Do you know what that means? I gave a dying testimony! AH! Actually, I'm not too freaked out about it. I'm not even sure it actually happened. However, I do remember feeling the spirit really strongly, and I realized how much music has been a part of my mission and how big of a part it has played in my conversion. I know that Christ really suffered for ME, and that He has and continues to strengthen me every single day. I reread the lyrics to my favorite hymn (they're beautiful in English and in French), and I understood just a little bit better how much my relationship with my Savior has grown because of His Atonement. Here are the words, they say it better than I can:

Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart, Searching my soul?

Where, when my aching grows, Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand? He, only One.

He answers privately, Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace He finds for my beseeching.
Constant He is and kind, Love without end.

I feel this every day. With every little miracle I see during lessons, with every person we talk to on the street I see His hand. Every morning when I wake up and see the sunrise, I know it's God. Each and every moment when the aching is pulled from my body, I know it's Him. And the coolest thing about it is that this is not just for now, nor is it simply for missionaries. This Atonement that Christ suffered that enables us to become better people, friends, family members, and disciples is for each one of us every single day of our lives. I am SO incredible grateful to know this. I can say with certainty that I know that He lives. I know it.

We had a dinner with a spanish family from our ward this week. Our spiritual thought focused on the three things that we can do each day to bring us closer to Christ. We each went around, sharing our feelings about the gospel or prayer or Christ. The night ended with tears and warmth and SO MUCH happiness. I am so grateful for members and people who are examples to me of people succeeding to live the gospel. I have people tell me every day that it's just too hard; I can't possibly live the law of chastity AND keep from smoking! It's too hard. It's not worth it. The church is too far. It's too cold. I CAN'T DO IT.

But you can. Because people do. We can live it, and it is the very act of living it that makes us strong. That is what the Atonement does. That is what it is for. 

Just to end this email, I would like to share a little story from earlier today. We are walking down the street with our little grocery caddie (on wheels, normally for old people but hey, stuff is heavy!) when we stop at a light. Suddenly I hear some voices behind us speaking in French, trying to decide if they want to ask us a question or if we're tourists (we were speaking in English). Suddenly, the man goes, "Attendez! Ils ont un caddie." (Wait! They have a caddie.) He then turned and ask me a question about a street name, which we answered and then went along our way. Our caddie made it obvious that we live in Brussels. No one else just here for the week would have a caddie to go grocery shopping. 

I hope that it is as obvious that I live and love the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is that I am a Brussels resident. I want everyone to know that I know that the Atonement heals broken lives! Sometimes it's not quite as obvious as a simple caddie that we carry around with us everywhere we go. But it can be. It totally can be. :)

I love you all! 
Gros bisous,
Sœur Katie Pettingill
Sharing her 'dying' testimony

Thanks to Sœur Nielson's mom who sent us little valentine's chocolates :)

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