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,