Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Merry Christmas, and A HAPPY NEW YEAR - December 30, 2013

Well, I hope you all had a very merry Christmas!! I certainly did! We spent the two days before Christmas caroling and delivering cookies to the members of our branch! It was such a tender experience to sing praises to our Lord and King and bring the spirit to each of our members homes, even for just a quick moment. There is no place I would have rather been than here in France for the celebration of our Lord's birth.

In France, Christmas Eve is the big meal of the season. So we were invited over to our Branch Presidents home for Christmas Eve. He has the cutest wife, and 5 children all under the age of 9... You can imagine the craziness of that night!! It was sooo much fun! The kids were going CRAZY and we just had a blast. Pictures for proof are provided. Anyway, we had a 6 course, completely authentic French meal. 1st course: French traditional Bread Ball. 2nd Course: Grenouille (frog legs), Escargo (snails), and Oysters. SOOO GOOOD!! 3rd course: Smoked salmon and foi gras (duck liver)... not the greatest. 4th course: Full quails and vegetables. 5th course: Bread, cheese, and fruit (of course). And 6th course: Traditional Buche de Noel!! It was the greatest meal I have had thus far in France. I WILL NEVER FORGET ITS GREATNESS. We played with the kids and we did the Creche (Nativity) with them... It was so cute to see the little kids play the shepherds and Mary and Joseph. It was humbling to see our branch president on his hands and knees, playing the role of the donkey that carried Mary. I couldnt have pictured a better way to spend Christmas Eve than with this precious family.

We had a sleep over on Christmas eve in our living room... We pulled our mattresses out and slept on
the floor with the Christmas Tree illuminated. We felt like little kids. We slept in. Oh Yeah! We had our cute little Christmas morning and unwrapped our presents... Soeur Richardson only cried a few times, but we made it through! We each bought our favorite box of cereal and ate that for breakfast. We got ready and went to the church and watched Tangled... Oh so great. We Skyped at our local, trusty Muslim internet cafe. That was an experience! We had a good time. We went back to the church and cooked our huge meal for our amis! Our amis and members showed up. It was only 3 of them, but it was so great. We had such a fun time. We played UNO and card games for a while afterwards as well :) Great night. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to be with those members and amis on such a special day.

The day after Christmas we went to our DMPs house to eat Raqulette. It is also a traditional French meal where you melt cheese and then you put it on potatoes and meat and delicious stuff... but it is different than fondue. I cant explain it. Google it. 

We got to go to Geneve this week too! We went for Zone Training. It was nice. We learned about how we are going to focus on finding families. We are so pumped. So the night before training, the zone leaders called me and asked me if I could sing a song during training. I said yes of course. Well we got to the church like 30 minutes before it started and the Elder CarrĂ© gave me the sheet music... and it was an original song written by one of his friends, so I have NEVER heard it in my life. He was in meetings the whole 30 minutes before, so Soeur Richardson played the notes out for me on the piano 3 times, and then we had to go into the training. I HADNT EVEN SUNG IT WITH ELDER CARRE!! To say the least, I was scared out of my mind and I didnt want to do it. I almost refused to do it, but I had already promised. Well I sang it... and it wasnt too bad, but its probably just because it is the most beautiful song ever. I dont understand why this keeps happening to me!! Haha, they need to give me more time! Art takes practice! It was fun regardless. We had a white elephant gift exchange as well. I had bought the classiest item I could find in the 2 euro store... a mini Buddah statue. It was fun as everyone opened up their ridiculous gifts. I received an oversized Cars pen... Soeur Richardson got a stocking with Axe Deodorant, haha. We had enough time to go buy more Swiss chocolate... because you never know if I will be transfered!! I needed to take the chance to get it one last time. 

We had a great meeting with our DMP where we planned out the Branch Mission plan for the year...
we felt very inspired. We know the branch here is capable of so much. We taught english class as well, and that was fun as always! We were invited to eat with the other sisters ami Chan, who is from America. He is way cool. AKA he is a sky diving junky and seriously curious about the church. He is funny. We had sausage with him. It was a fun night where we discussed the church and our standpoints, as well as our personal beliefs and how we came to find our own testimonies.

I got sick that night and then I was sick when I woke up on Sunday... So I missed church for the first time on my mission. Boo. It was sad, but I was really sick. My body isnt used to so much chocolate and bread. We did some service during the day for an ami Marie Christine. She lives in a tiny apartment and owns enough stuff to fill a mansion... you can use your imagination. She was so grateful for our help that she invited us over for New Years!! Fun!! We weekly planned and then went to bed early because I still wasnt feeling too well. I am feeling a bit better today, but I will definitely have to watch my diet.

So at Zone Training, they invited us to make a personal covenant with God to prepare for the new year and to prepare to find our families that are going to accept the gospel. So Soeur Richardson and I prayed and talked about it... We have decided to give up our laziness for the rest of the transfer... We aren't going to speak English anymore. We are going to immerse ourselves in the language we have been called to speak. In return, we hope to find our family and teach them the gospel and how they can be a family for all eternity. We are so grateful for this opportunity... We know it will be very difficult, but we know it will be worth it. We trust that the Lord will bless us as much as we work. 

I am so grateful to be a part of the Lord's work at this time. He is so gracious to us. He sent His son to the earth to atone for our sins, and to save us from our imperfections. I invite you all to reflect on who you are, and make a covenant with God at the beginning of this year to change; to become more like His son, so that you can be a better servant to him. He loves you and He will bless you and bring you joy in your life. I testify that He is ever present in our lives and that He is aware of each and every one of us. He is merciful. Turn to Him.

I love you all and miss you greatly... Gardez la foi!!

Avec tout mon amour,

Soeur Beeny



Monday, December 23, 2013

Ding Dong Ding Dong (Doorbells We Ported)

(Read with English Accent) MERRY CHRISTMAS HARRY!! Oh how I miss the holiday seasons in America... but they are quite lovely here in the beautiful French alps!! I feel so blessed to be here. We were able to take a trip to Lyon this past week for a 5 zone Christmas Conference!! We got the coolest mission watch from the Roney family! I will attach a picture. One of the elders dressed up as Santa and distributed the gifts :) hahaha, they passed out all of the presents that have been sent in from around the world for missionaries. It was quite magical to say the least. Some missionaries walked away with too many packages to carry by themselves and their companion! It was so much fun. Us four sisters decided we wanted to save our gifts for Christmas morning, so we didn't open them. We opened our companions packages and wrapped them for each other! Our tree is surrounded by news paper wrapped gifts :) oh the life of a poor missionary! Haha, its very cute. We are ecstatic!! Anyway, the conference was beautiful. President focused on how one birth can change the world! It was, as always, centered on the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I have never had such a spiritual experience yet on my mission. Soeur Richardson and I were brought to tears for a majority of the conference. They also revealed our objective for 2014 as well!! They told us that we wouldn't be baptizing anymore... but that we would be baptizing FAMILIES!! Soeur Richardson and I were overjoyed by this idea seeing as we have felt like there has been a family waiting for us since we arrived here... well gosh darn it are we pumped now!! We have felt the love of the Savior during this season, and we have been trying our best to share this love with all those around us. 

So last PDay we actually took 3 hours more of Missionary work so that we could stay in Lyon for a few more hours and venture around!! We were able to ride the HUGE ferris wheel there and had a BLAST! It was magical to say the least. We took some beautiful pictures around all of the lights. I hope I get to serve in Lyon one day, cause dang. It's so full of life!! It was a fun experience for us.

We had a rough week numbers wise because most of our amis are out of town for the holidays! We dropped Lucien this week because he is not making time for us, even when we know he most definitely could. Its always sad to drop an ami, but I know that he will recognize the absence of the
spirit in his life and he will want to come back soon. He needs some time to suffer so he will be humbled. We all do it. We were able to teach Yorrick this week!! He said some pretty inspirational things regarding the LdeM and Joseph Smith. He always talks about how he can feel the power of God when he holds the LdeM in his hands. Wowzers. He is still just as golden as ever... we taught him the gospel of Christ and invited him to be baptized. And he said YES! How incredible. We didn't set a date with him because we are silly... but he will be in Marseille with family until January 5th, which is no bueno. We are worried, but trying to stay positive. We will keep updates on him. He is in contact with the Elders there, so hopefully he will go to church there. They have a great ward I guess. He also mad us some sweet Christmas gifts in his metal welding class!! Haha, he made me a Christmas tree and he made Soeur Richardson a SICK elephant. Hes too cool for words.

We ended up having a RDV with Yves and I've at the same time because we got our schedule mixed up... its hard having two amis with the same name! So the RDV wasn't very productive because they had never met, and they instantly hit it off! But they both committed to live the Word of Wisdom. They are making BEAUTIFUL progress. We also set there baptismal dates for January 18th. We are very excited and ready to continue to help them to progress towards this first beautiful covenant they need. They will both be out of town for quite some time as well. YIKES! So pray for all of our amis to be wise during their holiday seasons and to read and pray everyday so they can stay strong in their paths!

We may not have been able to see many amis, but we were able to see lots of members and many less actives. We made the cutest cookie bags and went caroling to the members! We were able to SPARK them like crazy. They have really come to love us. We touched their hearts, that is for sure. We went to Pont de Beauvoisin one morning this week to hit three less active families with our glorious harmonies of Angles We have Heard on High. We were so lucky, and we knew the Lord was helping us, because all three of the families were home, and they invited us in. We felt so lucky to get to know them and share just a little bit of the Christmas Spirit with them. We focused on reading Luke 2:8-20 with them. We discussed the sign of the angel and the humble state of the shepherds and their exceeding joy in sharing their knowledge of the new born king with everyone they met. We must do the same!! The less active families in our branch are so sweet... and they just need a little love.

We went to eat with the Menet family, a couple that has been inactive for a year now. We felt very impressed to talk about the atonement and forgiveness with them, because President told me that we always need to invite the members to repent and be happy. So we talked about it after a delicious couscous meal, and I was brought to tears. The Spirit dwelt with us as we discussed the love and sacrifice of the Savior. Frere Menet told us that he was holding a grudge against a couple of members in the Branch and that he had finally understood the atonement enough to forgive these men and return to church with his wife, where they belonged. I was so touched and they both personally thanked me yesterday at church me for the spirit we brought into their home. It is so homey to see all of the less actives at church... we may not have had many amis at church yesterday, but there were 9 less/inactives. We felt like we did some good this week.

In between caroling to members, we also caroled to random homes; we usually choose HUGE houses that look like mini castles that could have families. There was this gorgeous gothic house in the middle of nowhere with a heavenly gate in front of it... it looked deserted, but we decided to try anyway. Almost immediately after we rang the sonnerie, the huge gates began to open... CREEPY!! We looked at each other, but didn't know what to do, but we went inside. A family lives there. Only one of the sons was there, but he let us sing to him and then we left him our card and headed on our way. It was a dream come true. We spread some Christmas cheer this week.

We went to Aix les Bains to visit our awesome re-activat
ed member Frere Naccaro. As we were walking to the café, a cute Christmas parade came dancing through the streets! We also had a couple of funny instances where I fell... Twice that is. Once on a bus where I was trying to take off my jacket and totally biffed it as we took a corner. And then last night I jumped into my desk chair with a little too much force and it fell over in the middle of the living room... my chair landed on the garbage can, and I smooshed it. It was too funny! My clumsiness was a source of laughter this week... as always.

Our Christmas day will be spent at the church with a few amis and members who would otherwise be alone this year... at first we were a little bummed not to be in the warmth of a members home, but we know that the Lord has truly blessed us with this opportunity. We are overjoyed at the idea of being with those people and helping them feel surrounded by the love of the Savior as we celebrate His birth. What a beautiful occasion. I invite you all to help those that may feel alone, feel the love of the Savior during the Christmas holiday. After all, is that not what the season is about? Remember Him and do as He would do. You will be changed and you will feel His love for you as you show His love for them.

I love you all and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. He Lives.