Wednesday, June 18, 2014

You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch - June 16, 2014

What an inspiring week. We took an early train to Lyon on Monday and then silently loaded the charter buses to head to Nice. The bus ride went by quickly and sacredly. It was spiritually uplifting and impressive that all of us missionaries were able to control ourselves. We arrived at the hotel and went to sleep, anticipating the next day, it was like Christmas Eve for us.

Satan knows when the best things are arriving. He's like the Grinch, destroying the beauty and joy of Christmas morning, only he doesn't have a change of heart and return the splendor of gifts to reward our unwavering hope. We entered the conference center and the silence was a bit painful as I saw some of my most favorite people in the world and I had to hold myself back from running into their arms... It was worth it though. Before the Andersons, Kearons, and Roneys entered the room, I experienced a Spiritual Whirlwind. It wasn't foreseen, in fact the few weeks before the conference were filled with an empowering study of the words of Elder Anderson. I was on top of the world! I felt as if I had never before been so edified by my studies. I came prepared to hear this apostle speak, but at the last moment, the momentum halted as my pride pondered at the pool of popularity, and my mind meandered in the maze of mediocrity. This all occurred suddenly and from something that to others would seem insignificant, but for me it was devastating news. I felt like a useless, unappreciated, unwanted dog. Satan strikes at the most precise of moments. He knows our capacity and he will do everything to hinder our success. As the conference began, I prayed that I would still be edified, and that I would know what I needed to do to move forward with faith. Elder Kearon, a 70, and his wife addressed us. As Sister Kearon advised us, I received the answers to my pleading heart. It was as if she was speaking directly to me: "Turn yourself over to the Lord. Give up your pride, your desires, your will, and your heartaches and repent." her words forced the powers of Satan from my mind. As the Andersons spoke, I was able to listen not only with my ears, but with my heart. As Elder Anderson spoke, the Spirit continually blessed me with the gift of believing another's testimony. As he told us our mission could baptize more, specifically every team could baptize every month, as he told us the Savior himself would be present in the Paris temple, as he told us we would see literal miracles as our faith moves up, the Spirit witnessed to me that it was true. When all was said and done, we stood as a mission choir to sing one of the Holy of Holies; the Hosanna Anthem. I have never sang in a more heavenly choir. Angels were lifting us up, as we praised and thanked the Lord for the spiritual outpouring He had rained upon us. The minutes after the closing prayer were the most precious as we sat together in silence, inhaling the beauty of the moment. None of us wanted it to end, but alas, the most important part of the conference was that we returned to our own villes and applied the inspiration we had been blessed with. As Soeur Grunke and I began to lift our faith, we walked with more confidence, we invite more people, and we testify of the divinity of the Savior. Miracles have arrived, and more miracles will arrive as we continue to plead and pray deeply to the Lord each morning we are on our knees. 

Elder Anderson spoke of different missions, specifically the Fortaleza missions in Brazil. He had just come from visiting them (Jordan Wood's mission. WOW!) He told us that the two missions in Fortaleza have about 150 baptisms a month... We had about that LAST YEAR! haha, but then surprisingly Elder Anderson told us that our mission is no harder than their mission. Wait, what? I was lost. But it must be true. He is an apostle of the Lord. Our mission is not any harder, just different. It eased my pains :) I love my mission. Also, Elder Anderson served in Angouleme when he was in a missionary in France!! WHAT!! I freaked out and just about jumped out of my seat when he said that. He saw me, and looked over at me and smiled. I was a little excited to know that I have served in the same place the apostle of the Lord has ;) 

Elder Anderson invited us to move up our faith. But we have faith! But, we need more faith. We read Ether 12 together. Wow. Things hit me that have never hit me before. Miracles are a product of faith. He promised us real, scriptural, miracles in our mission if we showed more faith. So guess what Im studying right now? The Atonement.. but yes, Faith as well :) The conference was an undeniably incredible experience. Probably once in a lifetime for me. It was so precious, and I am eternally grateful for my Savior, and for my mission, and for my calling to be a missionary. There is no other place in the world I would rather be.

So, my week went well. For a week short three days, we blew it out of the water! Amandine is officially committed to baptism the 5th of July! YAY! We had an incredible lesson with her about the plan of salvation. We all wept, even the member, as we discussed the atoning sacrifice of the Savior. It applies to every aspect of life. It really touched her. When we invited her to be baptized, there was no hesitation. It was as if she had already signed up, and she was confused as to why we were asking. She is so prepared and humble. She came to activities this weekend and was able to forge relationships with the other young adults. Everyone is raving about her! We are worried about Antonio and Ryan... We don't feel they will be prepared to be baptized the 5th, but Armand still seems to be buoyantly moving forward towards the 5th! We saw our fantastic less actives again this week... One sister, Soeur Bartin, wanted to sing a hymn during the lesson... So we sang. And she was so ridiculous about it that Soeur Grunke and I couldn't help but laugh at how adorable she is!! She laughed with us and kept entertaining :) We also had a fun little experience this week where a bird came into the chapel and Soeur Grunke and I had to catch it and get it out. You can imagine a lot of screaming from my part, and a lot of hushing from Soeur Grunke, haha. We had a super fun BBQ with the young adults after church yesterday. I got sunburned! And we just laughed. I feel at home here already. Three short weeks to integrate me. Not bad. I love it here. I am so grateful to be the Lords missionary. I am so grateful for the truthfulness of this gospel. I love my Savior. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. 

I love you all. Have a fantastic week :)

Avec tout mon amour,
Soeur Beeny

Beautiful - June 8, 2014

Beautiful, quick little week. The greatest thing I learned this week: I love Soeur Grunke so much. 

Honestly, I am so grateful to be with her. She is such a light for me. We get along so well, and we have laughing fits. I've made a friend forever. We had a great time with our fantastic JAs (young adults) this week, participating in their fun FHE and then having them teach with us almost everyday! We had a few tombez-vous this week, but its not grave (serious). We also saw lots of miracles! We set a baptismal date with Armand for the 5th of July. We have an ami named Antonio (from Portugal... I LOVE PORTUGUESE! Thank you for instilling this love Soeur Paulo) who accepted to be baptized the 5th of July as well! We hope to see 4 or 5 baptisms that day! Wouldn't that be such a miracle? We had a RDV with an incredible woman named Rokia this week that I was lucky enough to be prompted to contact. We taught her on a bench and learned that she has recently converted to Christianity from Islam... What a strong woman. She is very excited to read the LdeM. She is prepared. We taught another lesson to a less active woman on a bench... IN THE RAIN! We were holding our umbrellas the entire hour, ha ha. DEDICATION. We had a very, very busy week. We met some great members and helped them fix plans to share this beautiful thing we call the gospel. There is nothing more inspiring to me than seeing a faithful member take the steps and show their faith by inviting a friend or family member to learn more about what makes us so gosh darn happy! We had a lovely Zone Training this week in Lyon about preparing for our incredible experience coming up with Elder Anderson of the 12. We are treating this as if it is a temple dedication... We have been promised by President Roney that if we are prepared spiritually and temporally, that this experience will be like the experience the Nephites had in 3 Nephi 11 to 27... I wouldn't pass this opportunity up. They invited me to sing in the choir for Elder Anderson, and somehow the Lord heightened my capacities and I am singing high Gs in this musical piece. OUCH! Pray for my vocal chords! We had a fun exchange with the STLs in Lyon. It was so nice to be with Soeur Richardson again :) I love being reunited with my old companions. They have all touched my heart in a very personal, and tender way. Angelique was able to see us this week! It didn't goes as well as we planned, but there is more to come this week...
Today at church we had a European wide stake conference broadcast from Bern Switzerland. Elder
Uchtdorf, Anderson, and Tchera addressed us. It was such a lovely presentation. It was like our own little general conference. Elder Anderson had some special insight for us... He said "The increase God gives us cannot always be witnessed through the number of members sitting in sacrament meeting. God will give the increase. Believe in Him, follow Him, and be loyal to Him." I know that the Lord is giving us increase, even if that doesn't mean we see as many baptisms as Brazil, or even our neighbor mission of Paris. I know that the Lord is blessing us. He is blessing me. I love Him and I am so grateful to be His missionary. Keep us in your prayers this week as we will be heading to Nice for the experience of a life time with an apostle of the Lord. 

Je vous aime.

Avec tout mon amour,

Soeur Beeny

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Oh Oh Oh It's Magic! June 2, 2014

Any sadness of leaving Angouleme was replaced by my new found love of big villes… like wow. Trams are the greatest things in the world. We were able to contact and use the questionnaire like bosses this week!! We saw so many miracles… Soeur Grunke and I kept telling each other that the questionnaire will never cease to amaze us! It is simply magical! One day this week, we had a few RDVs set up, and then a bit of time to go to the centre to contact. We took a tram to the center and then spent a bit of time there… and within the hour we had set up 5 RDVs!! HOLY MOLY! I was trippin over the elect the Lord was placing in our path! It was a fantastic day. 

We have quite a few awesome amis here that are preparing for baptism… Armand is an 11 year old,
who's parents are members. They didn't think he was mature enough to be baptized when he was 8, so they waited until now! Ha ha, we are working with him gladly. He is such a fun kid. We had a pleasant stroll in their large backyard garden… I may have eaten too many cherries off of the tree, but they didn't mind. They have turtles and a pet bunny that roams at its own will, ha ha. The rabbit comes to you when you call its name! ITS LIKE A DOG! Ryan is preparing to be baptized the 5th of July. 

We are teaching a 10 year old boy named Ryan. His mother is a less active woman. Ryan is the sweetest boy, and yet he finds himself confined to a wheelchair. His handicap doesn't keep him from smiling and becoming the next Picasso though! His Christlike humility and love emanate goodness. He is preparing to be baptized the 5th of July.

Aimé is an awesome African scientist who loves our message. He is preparing to be baptized the 5th of July. Amandine is an incredible 20 year old French young woman! I love her to pieces. She is young in the faith, and yet as valiant as an 8th generation member! She is truly seeking for the truth. She brings friends and family members to our lessons because she doesn't want to seem selfish and keep this message to herself. She came to church for the first time yesterday and loved the services. We plan to invite her to prepare herself to be baptized the 5th of July. See a pattern here? The 5th of July is going to be the most miraculous present to the Lord in the history of the France Lyon Mission!!!!! Please, keep us in your prayers. Anything is possible with the Lord. 

Something I have been missing in my missionary work: less actives. Soeur Richardson helped me fall
in love with less actives in Chambery, and that was something that lacked in Angouleme. I am so grateful to be working with some incredible less active women in our ward here in Clermont. It is special to find someone and teach them and see them receive the restored gospel, but there is something more tender about seeing someone who has fallen away, return to activity. They return to the warmth of the Saviors arms. For whatever reason they left, they have been re welcomed with love and gratitude! Oh man I love being a missionary and seeing lives changed by the gospel of Christ… I will be changed forever.

We were able to do some great work with the Burtons, the senior couple in our ward, during the week. We took a long voyage into the depths of the French countryside this past Saturday to visit the Potter family! They are an inactive British couple who bought an old, OLD OLD French cabin thing and then renovated it! So impressed. We chopped wood and filled up their cellar for the winter! It was a beautiful day, and I finally got a little sun :) They were so fun. They were touched by our willingness to come so far and work so hard to serve them. The Lord is slowly working on them through our service.

We had a sweet miracle this week. We were on the tram and I contacted this woman named
Angelique. She is French, but her South African boyfriend has her speaking fluent English! We had an INCREDIBLE conversation where I taught her about the Book of Mormon using the pictures, WHEN SUDDENLY Soeur Grunke called me to get off the tram because we had arrived! It was packed full, so I had to dive into the crowd of people, leaving me no time to get Angeliques number. I threw her a card and begged her with my eyes to call…. Two days later, after our schedule had been drastically changed, we found ourselves in the local, lovely park that is unfortunately called Jardin Lecoq… We were leaving when through the gate I saw Angelique and her darling little boy!! I screamed and ran up to her! She was just as happy to see me as I was to see her! While her son played on the playground, we shared with her our purpose as missionaries and our desire to teach her the gospel. She accepted and we set a RDV for this coming week… I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who is watching over me and His other children. 

Our ward is amazing. Yes, I said WARD! There are about 80 active members here. I was blown away,
and the members were blown away as well because I had studied up and I knew all their names before even meeting them! The Young Adults are the most impressive group… about 4 of them have been baptized within the last 6 months. One YA, David, was a miracle known throughout the mission. A few months ago, he was having a hard time. He prayed and asked God to help him. He distinctly received the impression to find The Book of Mormon. He went to the local library and asked for a copy. He read 1 Nephi 1 on the spot and felt an overwhelming confirmation of its truthfulness. He found us online through FB and then found the Burtons phone number. He called Elder Burton and said "Hello, my name is David. I would like to be baptized." He is one of the driving forces of our ward here in Clermont now. He is starting his mission papers. WOOOOWWW! It was like meeting a legend! That is one simple example of how remarkable the members are here. I am so lucky to be called here. The Lord answers prayers. He loves us.

I continued my Elder Anderson study this week. My favorite talk was titled Never Leave Him. It discussed true conversion, and how to prepare ourselves for moments when we might possibly waver in our faith. He tells us Choose not to be offended, and Choose not to be ashamed. He tells us "Life is no spiritual picnic… We stand apart from the world… concerning challenges, if approached with faith, these refining experiences bring a deeper conversion of the Saviors reality… The road of discipleship is no for the spiritually faint of heart… we pray and PRAY and listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Ghost that leads us along and speaks peace to our soul… Whatever challenges arise, we never, never leave Him." I applied this in my missionary work this week. As challenges arose, I chose to be forgiving, and to not become offended. Sister Hansen, my homeward Bishops wife once gave me GOLDEN advice… "Whenever someone says something mean to you, pretend like they just put their foot in their mouth… then you will never become offended!" True Doctrine. I also kept my favorite poem in my mind this week. It is entitled Fellowship of the Unashamed.

I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The dye has been cast! I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made; I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tainted visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, positions, promotions, plaudits or popularity. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk with patience, am uplifted by prayer, and labor with power. My face is set, my gait is fast, and my goal is Heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear! I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up, or let up, until I have stayed up stored up, and paid up of the cause of Christ. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till I know, and work till He stops me. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.

Remember these words this week and choose the Lord! He will bless you and support you. Have a wonderful week!

Avec tout mon amour,
Soeur Beeny

Our God Is An Awesome God - May 27, 2014

Yesterday I took a train from Angouleme to Bordeaux, Bordeaux to Montpellier, Montpellier to Lyon, and Lyon to Clermont-Ferrand... 13 hours of travel to get to the place the Lord certainly needs me right now... I was just a little devastated to leave the charming Angouleme, but I know that I did good work there, and that I need to do good work here now. The tears are wiped away and the smile has returned! It has been raining for the past week, and Im pretty freezing... I even broke into my winter suitcase. THAT AINT RIGHT. But ya gotta do what ya gotta do, ya know? Its been raining up a storm. Last Wednesday there was a HURRICANE. Soeur Paulo and I were at the chapel in a RDV when it started... our ami left and we looked out the window. The parking lot had become an ocean filled with billowing waves of death!! Ha ha, so we picked up our umbrellas and headed out to work. The Lord blesses us in times of need. Opposition is ever present, but that doesn't mean we don't move forward buoyantly with faith! 

My last week in Angouleme was filled with the Spirit. We had many, MANY tombez-vouss...
seriously like 13 of them. We sadly were not able to teach many lessons. We stayed diligent and we found so many potentials!! Angouleme looks like they will have a busy summer ahead of them. There was one afternoon where we went down a road, we weren't sure where we were going exactly, but we talked to every person placed in our path. We had two FANTASTIC conversations with some men. We enlightened their hope and shared the love of the Savior. We were able to share the joy and knowledge of the Book of Mormon with them. Fantastic people. Soeur Paulo will baptize them for me :) We were able to see Steve and Stéphane quite a few times. I love the focus on recent converts... The branch needs these recent converts... and they need them to stay! It was a blessing to see both of my recent converts in Angouleme bless the sacrament together this past Sunday. The Lord was showing the fruits of so many missionaries and members labor. He is such an awesome God. Steve and Stéphane are some of the greatest miracles of my mission. Continue to pray for them and their progress. I will miss them both so much!!

We had to go to Tulle again for my legality, so we headed out on Monday night, spent the splendid morning there, and then came back Tuesday night. My appointment only took a minute, so we got to see more of the lovely ville and took enough pictures to last my entire mission! I also realized that I am becoming strangely obsessed with French cows. Why? I couldn't tell you. The mission is making me weirder than I was before. 

Margaret is doing fantastic. We watched Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration together. She loves
films, and she sympathized so much with the dedicated efforts of the Christian saints that withstood so much torment at the beginning of the restoration. She also had us over for dinner on Saturday night. She is growing so much in her faith, and she fits in SO PERFECTLY on the old lady row in sacrament meeting. The members have just embarrassed her! Pray for her to continue to find her footing in the gospel. I hope to hear that she will be baptized the 5th of July :)

My last Sunday was sad and beautiful. Only 16 people in Sacrament, but still strong and vibrant as always. I love the branch there. They are the strongest members I have ever met in my life. I will miss them with all my heart. Soeur Paulo covenanted with me to take care of them and see that our work does not end in vain. I love her and I will miss her with my whole soul... My heart is a portion Portuguese now. Te amo Soeur Paulo!

Our studies in the mission lately have been focused on the words of Elder Anderson, as he will be visiting the mission in two short weeks. To prepare, I have been immersing myself in his talks, and they have brought me incredible spiritual insight. As I struggled with my new call, I wondered what the Lord had in store for me... my new companion is Soeur Grunke, who is in her 6th transfer, from Cologne Germany. I wondered how I will do with another culture shock! Well, as I turned to my studies, I found spiritual support from the Lord through the words of His apostle. "Two men can do anything, as long as one of them is the Lord."... "By definition, trials will be trying... with faith comes trials of faith, bringing increased faith."... "The sun never sets on righteous missionaries testifying of the Savior."... "It's a miracle. It is a miracle."... "No force in the entire world can stop the work of God."... "By His grace He will do for you what you cannot do for yourself." The Lord loves us. He speaks through His righteous servants. I trust Him. I love Him and I am ever so grateful to be His missionary in the beautiful country of France! Turn to Him, and rely on Him. I love you all. Have a wonderful week.

Avec tout mon amour,

Soeur Beeny