Monday, March 30, 2015

Give your broken heart to the Lord


This week was really hard. Last Sunday one of our members said something that I just loved. And on Sunday, when all was well, I was all nods and yessss that is so truue! So this week the Lord put me to the test.

She said, «Give your broken heart to the Lord and a smile to the world»

This week my heart broke. Tuesday we got dropped by two people. Then Wednesday morning we made some more phone calls to schedule lessons and get dropped by even more people. At that point we were feeling it, but doing ok. We went out to do some porte a porte and then happened to see one of our amis. She is one my favorite people, full to the brim with love and gratitude since the first day we met her. I pray for her constantly. I love her. And when we saw her she was ice cold, mean and full of distrust. She scolded us, called us liars and a whole number od things that cut really deep and were so very unexpected. As we walked away from her house I felt some of the deepest hurt I've ever experienced. I wasn't angry with her, it just filled with with sorrow that she had closed herself off to the truth and the BLESSINGS of the gospel. 

Long story short. This week was really hard. Almost all of our amis dropped us or rejected us. 

But i can testify that prayer is a true communication with a loving Heavenly Father. Prayer heals us. Through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ we may be healed. We are never alone. I felt very alone at that moment after that experience, but I was so very mistaken.

please never underestimate prayer.

On a lighter note, last Monday we had the unreal and DELIGHTFUL joy of playing VOLLEYBALL with a bunch of enormous Walisians and Tahitians. I was dying of joy. All these enormous islanders just kept walking out of their homes and joining us. They are so legit. 

Love you all!!
I promise I'm doing ok now by the way!
Soeur Evans

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Miracles Abounding

Bonjouuuuur tout le monde! Salut ma chere petite famille et tous vous
chers amis aussi!

Well I'm currently in Noumea once again. We have a reunion de zone
tomorrow so we had to come down today. And I will be honest, it is
really hard to leave our secteur so often. I feel like we just abandon
it and leave those people hanging, even when its just for a couple of
Just a Walk Along-- photo from Soeur Gunn
days. This work and these people are too important. Hahah we were
tempted to just ask to skip the meeting so we could stay up in
Bourail, but alas, it is important to be spiritually edified and
instructed so here we are.

Just heard that all missionaries in Vanuatu who are almost done with
their missions have to go home early because of a lack of housing in
Vanuatu. We were so protected from all of that, but it is quite the
experience to be right on the edge of this natural disaster. There are
lots of Ni-Vanuatu who live here and have families who are now living
in the churches over in Vanuatu. I am incredibly grateful to be here,
to be safe, and to be able to stay out. Keep sending your prayers
their way, they certainly need it.

I'm gonna try to give a bunch of different stories this week. My
fingers are happy with a keyboard as opposed to the regular tablet, so
maybe I'll even write more. Oh lala who knows :)

First things first. HIGHLIGHT of all highlights! Guess how many amis
came to church yesterday?!?! Not just one. Nope, not just two. THREE.
Three amis came to church! And this might seem like just another
Sunday to so many others, but it was the most incredible blessing and
straight up miracle for us. We have been here for 5 months. Five. And
have invited people to come to church since day one of those 5 months.
And yesterday, we had 3 separate amis come. Two of them just came for
the first hour, and one of them stayed all three hours! The Spirit was
filling our little storefront and I was overcome with gratitude and a
gentle confirmation of the truthfulness of this Church. I was sitting
there, praying for these dear dear people to feel the Spirit testify
and warm their hearts. And I can't speak for them, but as for myself,
I felt all bubbled up and full of joy all Sunday long. A calm, sure,
steady comfort, along with a deep joy. Our church service is simple.
Just 12 of us in a storefront bearing testimonies and studying the
scriptures together and sharing our love of the Lord. But it is GOOD.
And it is TRUE.

During our lesson with one of our amis who came (he is incredible and
the most solid ami of all time), he offered the closing prayer. And in
it he expressed thanks for Soeur Gunn and myself. For our constant
smiles, for the joy and light and hope we radiate. He thanked Heavenly
Father for us and said that when he sees those things in us, it makes
him want those things too. He wants to feel that same joy and light
and hope. Moments like that make it all worth is. What a beautiful,
sweet, humbling experience. I am eternally grateful to be these
peoples' missionary. To be one of the missionaries that served them
and cried with them and loved them and led them along the path to
eternal life. How blessed I am.

That same day we had gone to visit one of our other WONDERFUL amis.
She studies and searches the scriptures between every visit so that by
the time we teach something, she's already read all of the references
about it. Oh sweetness. Well out of nowhere, we and Soeur Gunn felt
like we were supposed to teach the Word of Wisdom. Hahaha we didn't
even have our D&C with us. It was just a prompting. So, of course, we
taught the Word of Wisdom, using the Bible and the Book of Mormon. And
our ami started to share a story. She said that when her 25 year old
daughter was born she stopped smoking. YES. But then recently with
stress she suddenly started smoking again. Oh no. And THEN. She said
that the day we showed up, the FIRST time we introduced ourselves to
her, she stopped smoking. She just stopped. Just like that. Fast
forward a few months and many lessons and for the first time ever we
teach her about God's law of health, including not to smoke. God
prepares His children to obey His commandments. There is always a way
prepared that we may accomplish the commandment that is given us.
Miracles everywhere.

Another ami, who read the ENTIRE Book of Mormon in one night, is doing
superbly. Hahah ok, I forgot to mention her last week. But that
happened. This week she said that after we leave she replays the
lessons in her head all week and finds answer after answer to all of
her questions. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has ANSWERS. We must search,
but as we search, we will find.

We went with one of our members this week to go visit a less active
woman. We'd never met this less active, but had talked to her on the
phone and gotten directions to her home. All we knew was that is was
on a dirt road and we had to "cross some rivers". So off we go with
our member knowing it will all work out despite knowing essentially
nothing haha. Long story short, after legitimately off-roading it for
an hour on mountains and cliffsides, and crossing three rivers, we get
to a point back in the mountains where we are completely lost. We had
called the member basically every 5 minutes asking for more directions
as we came to other turns and rivers and all. But suddenly our member
was frustrated, we were lost and the only thing around the base
directions off of was trees and rocks. Hahah not great. Soeur Gunn,
bless her, asks if we can say a prayer. And as we open our eyes from
this prayer, the less active member came walking down the hill in
front of us. Miracle. She had walked an hour to meet us because she
knew we were lost. These people are STARVING for visits.

Then after we finished our lesson with her, we try to leave. But her
neighbor had locked us onto the property. He'd put a lock the size of
a grapefruit on the gate and then hid in his house. So we were
trapped. We called the police and finally after 3 hours of waiting,
the lock got cut and we got to leave. There is always opposition.
Don't let it stop you.

The Lord is so endlessly good to us. We had a million cancellations
this week and almost no lessons. Everyone else (aside from these
miracles) avoided us or ignored us or cancelled. But in between it
all, the Lord rained His bountiful blessings upon us.

I will never stop being grateful for this mission. My life is changed.
I am changed.
I love you all,
Soeur Evans

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Here and All is well


Ok, first things first, I am totally and completely safe. Don't worry in the least  about me. The cyclone hit Vanuatu real hard and was devastating over there, but over here we are totally fine. Our darling member from Vanuatu heard news from her children (who still live over in Vanuatu for the moment) and their house was completely destroyed. Both members and nonmembers are living in the chapels over there. From the three days I was in Vanuatu it doesn't surprise me that they had so much destruction. Houses are so very simple and fragile over there. It breaks my heart thinking of all of them, but I am sure they are humbly and happily going about rebuilding. People over there are so very joyful and bright and self-reliant. But they will definitely be in our prayers. President Brewer is now not only caring for 3 countries, 6 districts, hundreds of missionaries and everything else of a mission president, but now also the destruction of a cyclone. Incredible.

As for us over in New Cal. We got restricted to our homes on Saturday by our leaders, so no missionaries could go out. We about went crazy being locked away from the people of Boruail for that long. There was some crazy strong wind and some wild horizontal rain, but aside from that we're fine. A couple times I looked outside and went, "I feel like were living Hurricane Katrina footage" with all the palm trees bending and rain blowing in every which direction. But honestly it was not bad at all. No damage or anything, so we'll be continuing work as usual.

Ok, as for the rest of this charming week! Highlight reel.

We were walking along my favorite back country road on Wednesday. It's surrounded by fields and cows and is less busy. Well were walking back from trying to see an ami when a little car pulls over in front of us. Hahaha and over here in Bourail the little cars are usually crammed full of local men that are sometimes a little questionable. So we were a little weary, but kept walking cause, well, there is work to be done, and we walk past the window and what do you know it's an inactive brother who is now totally active. Quelle joie! Well talks to us for a little and tells us about how he's going to get a calling soon (he's in another ward) and all and my heart was so full for this brother and his incredible spiritual progress. After a few minutes he continues on his way, apologizing that he couldn't drive us because he was a man alone. Me and Soeur Gunn keep walking and try to go see an inactive sister. Well she didn't respond so we turn and continue to walk. At this point we are really quite hot, we both forgot our water bottles, and no one will respond and all of our exposed skin is bright red and burnt. So we keep walking. And then we see that brother's car coming back down the road. And he pulls over next to us. And he pulls out two ice cold bottles of water and gives them to us. And then continues on his way with a friendly wave and " oh c'est rien!" Sometimes all it takes is a little bottle of water to be reminded that we are watched over. That our little prayers of, "Father we're a little tired and a little thirsty and trying our best out here, please help us." We were heard and answered. This brother was an angel in our lives. It sounds so simple I'm sure. But that act of kindness filled me with so much love and joy and lifted my entire day. Sometimes it takes so little to be an instrument in God's hands. Never underestimate the kindness that you offer to others.

We went to meet our new neighbors the other night. Just bring some banana bread, introduce ourselves and leave. And then they invited us to dinner. Hahaha so we had an impromptu dinner party with our Tunisian neighbors. They are legitimately from Tunisia and she showed us her wedding album and then we discussed religion (they're Muslim) over homemade couscous. It was dandy. We are, tragically, killer awkward in social situations.

Yesterday was the most uplifting, instructive Sunday. Our member from Vanuatu doesn't speak French, so every Sunday we translate for her. And whenever we see her we do our best to fill her with love for the week. We are the only ones at church who can communicate with her aside from other missionaries who speak English. But oh how grateful I am for this sister. She is a ball full of light and joy and FAITH. When you translate, she whispers little scriptural insights and testimony into your ear. Well shed had a hard week and just has a hard life at the moment. Long story short, we were blessed to have a Sunday witnessing the branch surrounding her with love, across all the language barriers, and the power of humble priesthood holders acting as servants of the Lord. 
Well the whole day got me really pondering and meditating. And I've learned a lot of things, but something I really internalized was my gratitude for a Church and leaders and teachings that have encouraged and supported my role as a woman long before I understood its value. How grateful I am to know the worth of nurturing and loving and caring. These words that are so looked over and almost mocked in the world. Nurturing. But I can tell you, I finally get it. I'm finally starting to understand. Read "the Moral Force of Women" by Elder D. Todd Christofferson. He says so beautifully what I am beginning to understand so much more profoundly.

I have officially been with Soeur Gunn for SIX MONTHS. And how blessed I am for that. My heart hurts when I think about transfers. We are not looking forward to it. 

Love you all. Be an angel in someone's life. Everyone has a role they can play. Everyone can bless someone's life. It doesn't take anything enormous or grand to help Heavenly Father share His love.

Love you! Please oh please send your prayers to Vanuatu. 
Soeur Evans
Trees blowing in Cyclone PAM 3-2015
Compare this to the photo with missionaries standing in stream

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

small and simple

Bonjour my dear sweet family! And all you others!

This week I had the most incredible blessing. We got a visit from a General Authority! It's the first time on my mission and I am so incredibly grateful! He came to New Caledonia exclusively to see the missionaries and how honored do I feel to be a part of that group. To meet that qualification. God is so gooood to me!!

So on Thursday we all met together in Noumea, all 48 missionaries in New Caledonia. It was the first time seeing everyone in many long months, I think about six months, and it was a sweet moment to see all of these people I have come to love and respect. Then in walk.... President and Sister Brewer! Oh my heart just fills up every time I see them. And right behind them was Elder O. Vincent Haleck of the Pacific Area Presidency and his lovely wife. 

For the next 5 hours we were instructed and edified and taught by these four spiritual giants. When it was Elder Haleck's turn, I expected him to get up on the stand and instruct us and teach for a few hours. But instead, he stood in front of us, not even on the stand, and invited us to ask him questions. We had a Question and Answer session with a General Authority. And at times he would give the word to President Brewer or Sister Brewer or Sister Haleck.

At one point a soeur asked about the biggest mission the Halecks saw as mission president in American Samoa. And Sister Haleck got up and spoke of the biggest miracle we could ever seek. The changes within ourselves. She spoke of small and simple things. She testified of the miraculous power of the seemingly small changes the Lord makes in our hearts or the lives of those around us. Then, she also shared an INCREDIBLE story. Of how Elder Haleck at one point started to close areas. And instead of closing them in many areas, he closed 5 areas on the same coast. He didn't know why. It didn't  make sense. But he did it. And after a few months, they awoke one morning to an enormous earthquake. And then a tsunami hit. And it was  on that same coast that Elder Haleck had just closed to all but two missionaries. Those two elders who were left outran the wave and saved three children. The water rose and rose and many were killed, but all of the missionaries were safe. It was truly a miracle. Bit how touched I was that she focused the attention on the smaller, simpler miracles. "We don't need or want a miracle like that..."

Afterwards some missionaries were selected to have an interview with Elder Haleck. And again, how blessed I feel, because I was one of those chosen to meet with him. And AGAIN, he spent most of the interview talking about small and simple things. That he knows New Cal will have many stakes and a temple one day. But it takes the small and simple things to work up to that. I am so grateful for this message that the Lord passed to me over and over.

The work is in the Lords hands. Nothing can stop it. It will be done. And it will. Be marvelous. But each temple is built part by precious part, just as His Kingdom is built in small and simple acts performed by His weak and humble servants.

One day Boruail will be a stake. But today, that person on the bench needs to feel the Spirit. Our ami needs to read the Book of Mormon and gain a testimony of it. All of these parts are helping the Lord in His glorious work.

I am so grateful for inspired leaders. At one point Elder Haleck expressed how sometimes missionaries are assigned to missions because of their mission presidents. I certainly feel that to be true in so many ways for me.

Love you all!
Soeur Evans

Pres. and Sister Haleck of the Pacific Area Presidency

Monday, March 2, 2015

Tender Moments


Well this was a fun week so I'll just do tidbits of the sunshine of my life this week

We have a lot of amis that are really progressing, but are still at the beginning of their discovery of the gospel. Just tasting it and savouring its sweetness. And it is amazing to see how fast the Lehi effect is. After just the first lesson or second lesson, people are sharing the lessons and what we teach and the Book of Mormon and the brochures with those they live. They taste it. It is sweet to them. They share it. I love the simplicity of the Lehi effect, as I call it. Too often we turn missionary work into a big scary thing in our head. And it inhibits us actually DOING IT. But with these people, they don't even think twice. It is a natural desire to share something so sweet and beautiful with those they love the most. We can learn a lot from them.

We taught our English class. And we were doing directions. We did a game where they directed us around a map on the board. Hahaha so this 56yr old French man is telling me how to get from A to B and I purposefully mess up to help him practice hahahahah and he's desperately,  hilariously yelling at me, " No, Noooooo, NO. Turn  around. Turn around!! Noooooooo!" hahahahahahahaha I about died it was so funny. Don't worry he was about dying of laughter too and throwing in French between all his directions. Hilarious. Love French people.

Had the greatest Soiree Familiale with one of our wonderful members and her family. All in all there were TEN of us. Ten!  It was so fun and such a blessing since usually her family runs away and leaves when we ask to stay for the thoughts. They love us; they just don't feel a need to stay. But we invited again and they stayed! We shared the story of Nephi being bound by his brothers on the ship. Then the storm arises because of his brothers' wickedness, and then they release him. And the first thing Nephi does is praise the Lord, swollen hands and feet and all. Such a beautiful example (1 Nephi 18). Hahah after we asked the kids what we could learn. and the youngest goes, "Don't tie up your brothers." " Hahaha yes, and what else?" "Don't travel on boats" "Hahah ok that too, but what do we really learn..." We then had a wonderful thought on thanking the Lord for trials and always praising Him in faith and love. There was such a special spirit to be all together as a family studying Gods word. They bickered less than they ever have.

Been deeply struck by the beauty and love and mercy of the Atonement this week. Every time I learn a speck of understanding more about it, my testimony and love and obedience grows tenfold. As I testified more powerfully of the Atonement this week an amazing thing happened. The spirit was stronger in our lessons. People were visibly touched. They found a new, deep gratitude for the Savior that they didn't understand before. Sweet tender truths of the gospel. They change us all.

Got to see two dear sisters from Paita! Such a sweet reunion. A tender mercy to hear about people who were inactive when I left and are now back at church. So very grateful to know these people. It makes me excited for the beautiful reunion in heaven when well get to reunite again with ALL the precious brothers and sisters we love. I want to live worthy of that always.

Had a sweet sweet lesson with one amie. She feels the Spirit so very strongly with us, but can't ever feel the same way on her own and it discourages her. But she agreed to say the closing prayer of our most recent, spirit filled lesson. And at the end up her prayer she looked up with teary eyes, holding her chest like she was holding her heart and says "I feel. For the first time I feel that relief and unwinding that I feel when you pray, but this time it was my prayer...." The gospel is personal. Anything we help amis to feel they are capable of feeling on their own. They must simply do their part sincerely and humbly to invite the Spirit into their lives and into their heart. It was so beautiful to be there for a moment when she finally understood that she too can invite the spirit into her own life by communicating with her Heavenly Father.

Loove you all. Pray more sincerely. Never let the Spirit leave you. This world is too scary and too hard to take on alone.
All my love!
Soeur Evans

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