Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Putting Eternal Life Before Life

Bonjour bonjour bonjour!!!

Another blessed week. Today I'm just gonna list all the wonderful moments out, cause they are plentiful!

We got a call from our bishop the other week inviting us to come meet a man over a casual dinner at his home. Well, a missionary doesn't say no to that! That's the dream-meeting someone a member found in the member's home. The man had so many questions. He was rattling off his life stories and trials for the whole evening and woven into all of it were so many deep questions. I realized (again) that although these questions are our day-to-day material...people are constantly asking us "why.... and why...."...they are eating away inside of these people. How grateful I am to get to respond to these questions with such surety and hope and calmness. It was really interesting to "feel" the room as he spoke. It felt stressed and high-energy and doubtful and chaotic. Then as we spoke and taught and explained and testified a stillness and peace and quiet settled in the room and upon this man. The Spirit is so powerful.

We taught my favorite mami again! The sweet old woman I've taught since the beginning of my mission. She has such a special place in my heart. Ohhh I love her so! In the past, she didn't understand anything we taught. Today she was teaching us about prophets, explaining the scriptures, warning us again false "seers" and testifying of the truthfulness of the Godhead and building upon Christ. No greater reward, no greater reward than helping people to UNDERSTAND.

On Saturday a couple that the elders in our ward have been teaching got baptized. They are Futunian and have faced a lot of opposition from their family due to their deeeeeeeep Catholic roots and traditions. But they continued on and took that step of faith. Oh my goodness, the Spirit was so strong. The wife kissed her father's cheek right before walking into the font and oh la la talk about getting choked up. He is one of the few people supporting her choice. 

One night we had 20 minutes to spare, so we did some porte-a-porte. At the second house we yelled at we were invited in. Turns out they LOVE the missionaries, LOVE the family, LOVE the Lord and used to take the lessons. We have a lesson and dinner appt with them tonight. Blessings upon blessings. And did I mention that it's a family??

Taught our other favorite couple. The miraculous ones we found doing porte-a-porte one day. In the middle of the lesson their 25 year old son came and asked to join us. YES. So grateful for people who have the courage to follow the Spirit. He is now taking the lessons with his parents.

Some other general things:
-I never tire of the look of complete and riveted attention that comes from people being nourished spiritually. It's like we're handing a bathtub full of icy cold water to someone who just walked across the desert. Their feet are a little burned, exhausted and they're dirty. But their relief has arrived. Their thirst is quenched. Oh it is the most incredible thing.

-When people here experience that spiritual nourishment they always want to express thanks in some way. So we have many days when we have to quickly drive home to stick a bag of frozen fish in our freezer (that is, if no one was home we tried to gift it to :) )before continuing the days work.

-We are now so busy that if people miss their appointment we usually can't see them until the next week. Wild!! It's great cause we're busy, but the worst cause I loooove these people and a week is way too long.

Well I love you all to bits and pieces. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. It is restored on the earth. It is the key, the center, the secret to all happiness.

There are no words for my gratitude to be a member of this Church. To be a missionary for the Lord.

Do whatever you need to do to follow the Lord. There is nothing more important. Absolutely nothing. Please don't let life get in the way of eternal life.

Love you all forever! Especially my sweet family!
Soeur Evans

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Let the Holy SPirit Guide


Baaaah this week I feel like I'm exploding with stories to tell and experiences to share. Here goes. 

First of all, a great big HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! Joyeuse Fete des Meres maman :) It was so wonderful to see and hear my sweet family! Grateful for a family that loves me through my awkwardness. That transition to normal person life is going to be something else. 

Ok. Before anything else, I have to tell the most incredible story. This happened earlier today and I still can't believe this is my life. First of all, some background. Way back when I first got to Paita (at the beginning of my mission), we were teaching a man, we'll call him O. Well O was really in progres and he fixed a baptismal date and was AWESOME. Then we left Paita. He did not get baptised. Now I'm back in Paita. And for a month we have been trying and trying to contact him. We've called and stopped by his house, but every time we go he's not there, or just barely left. Bah. 

So it's been about a week since we last tried. I started feeling like he was just ignoring us. Then last night I had a dream about O. Then today at around noon, we had some free time before a lesson. O's name popped into my head, but I thought to myself, "Huh.....noooo. It's the middle of the day, he's at work. Why would I think of him now?" And 10 seconds later Soeur Giles goes, "this is gonna sound really weird, cause it's the middle of the day.....but I feel like we need to go see someone?" "Ah, oui? Who?" "O...." "No way!!! I was just thinking that but then I was like noooo that's silly" 
So off we go, to O's house. We're both super confused, cause seriously at noon here, everyone is at work or sleeping or something. It was the least likely time to see him according to logics. We pull up to his house and its deserted. No one home, no cars. Huh. So we park our car and say a prayer explaining that we had heeded the prompting and asking to be led to whoever we were supposed to meet at that moment. I open my eyes and get out of the car and the next second, O's TRUCK COMES PULLING AROUND THE CORNER. NO. WAY. He pulls up beside me and stops his truck and looks down all confused, "Evans?? How are you back here? I haven't see you in forever" "Uhhhhh I'm back in Paita!!! We came to see you!" 
I was dumbstruck. Me and Soeur Giles were standing there in the middle of the road as he parked his giant construction truck on this tiny road, and we couldn't stop giggling. "Did that just happen? Is this happening? THE SPIRIT IS THE BEST THING OF ALL TIME." Hahahaha we were just freaking out cause it was so unreal. Turns out he had come back for a quick lunch break in the middle of his workday. It was a moment of being completely guided by the hand of the Lord. He made our paths cross. But if we hadn't followed the Spirit, we would have continued on in our normal day and missed out on one of the most incredible experiences of my mission. 

I hope I did that experience justice. I felt like I was living a General Conference talk. We had a prompting. It felt silly. It felt a little ridiculous actually. We followed it anyway. When we arrived and saw no one, we didn't keep driving. We prayed and parked. And then, how marvelously we were REWARDED. Oh the Spirit is so real. He is the best guide our Savior could ever have given us. We just have to heed him. 

Other highlights of this marvelous week:
-Our day after Skype was one of our best days yet. We had lesson after lesson and the Spirit was so strong. Blessings. 
-Had an incredible incredible lesson with a new ami we met. The Spirit was poured upon us and as we testifed she started bawling, she was so overcome with emotion. The Spirit truly fills our mouths with the words that others need to hear, and fills their hearts with peace and comfort.
-Had a lesson with one of our couples. They often tell us they are simply "open to listening", but not really searching for a change. Well we taught the Plan of Salvation and at the end of the lesson asked when we could come back. Hahahah and the husband goes, "Well, are you free Thursday?" It was Monday night. As people learn gospel truths their hearts are touched and they yearn to learn more. 

Ok, well that's all for today. I love you all! Bisoux a vous tous!

Seek the Spirit. And when you find it, follow it. 
Soeur Evans

Monday, May 18, 2015

Melodies of heaven

Bonjour et Salut!!

Oh la la la la je ne sais pas ou commencer. I don't even know where to start. I keep thinking that I'll reach a plateau of blessings, but I have yet to experience that. Somehow I got on the uphill track that continues to bring blessing upon abundant blessing. And I have no desire to change tracks :)

Well, as per usual, I shall begin with the highlights.

This week, we had a night of no rendezvous. Nobody scheduled. So during the day we went out and tried to do some follow up and get some things scheduled. And it worked. We showed up that night to the home of a couple who previously took the lessons. They are Futunians (all Walisians and Futunians are Catholic. And they have been for generations upon generations). But of course, they were very kind and welcomed us into their home.

We walk in and think that they have company over, so we offer to come back another time when they are less busy. They tell us that there's always that many people and that it's not a problem at all if we stay. So we sit down on a woven mat in their main room, just us and the couple and their daughter. Before the prayer, the wife invites the other people who were there to join us. Suddenly we're sitting there with EIGHT FUTUNIANS facing us in silence waiting for us to begin. Um. That is approximately eight times more people than we ever teach at a time haha.

As always, we began with a prayer. And after the prayer came the message. You may think that it is automatically easy for us, as missionaries, to teach the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone. But fun fact, it is a little nervewracking and sometimes slightly awkward to be an invited guest in the home of 8 strong Catholics and to share this bold and unique message of truth. Nevertheless, share it we did. We are called to be BOLD and to serve and LOVE our brothers and sisters. Although talking about 'faith' or 'the life of Christ' would have been easy, nothing proves our love like sharing the message that God loves us and is constant and unchanging.

Oh my, the Spirit was so strong. Words and promises and testimonies were coming out of my mouth on their own. During that lesson we were definitely not the ones teaching. We were simply instruments in the Lord's wise hands to bring this message to eight of God's beloved children. The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true.

But the best is yet to come! After the closing prayer, the wife turned to me and goes, "Do you not like to sing?" "Why, yes, I do in fact like to sing" And then, oh words cannot even describe. Then, sitting together on the floor, we sang "Instant de Paix, Moment Si Doux"  (Secret Prayer in English). When the chorus came, Soeur Giles and I were belting the words to the melody and all eight of them in their sweet deep voices were harmonizing. The floor was shaking. Hahah I was shaking. And I just wanted to cry I was so happy. It was the most beautiful beautiful music.

So that was by far my favorite moment of the week.

Other delights and real life moments:
-Sr Giles and I take turns being sick. One day on, one day off. It's dandy. But it's not enough to keep us off the streets and out of houses. We continue, hilariously weak and uncomfortable at times, but we continue.
-We showed up to one of our dinner appointments to find half the ward there. Normal. Then we helped a soeur do her english homework. Also normal.
-It is beginning to be coooold here. I wore a scarf and a sweater the other day. I think it may be in the seventies. Maybe sixties. I've turned into a hot-weather-lover.
-Our amis keep on progressing! People are receiving testimonies, keeping the Word of WIsdom, praying, and ohhhh all sorts of lovely things!
-We currently have more amis than I've ever had on my mission. So many miracles.

Well, I love you all. This work is TRUE. It's true because it continues. And it continues on in light and joy. I've never been so happy and blessed and sure.

Sing a song to someone. Bear your testimony. Tell someone about the Book of Mormon. The Lord can work miracles with us, of that I am sure!

Love forever,
Soeur Evans

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Fwd: bonjour

Voila I finally got a picture from the conference with Elder Haleck. That's all of the missionaries on New Caledonia :)

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Draining and Edifying

Bonjour tout le monde,

Well I keep having to switch email days cause of the mediatheques that close constantly, which means today I have loads upon loads of time because I've beat everyone else to email :)

Which means I shall do my very best to summarize this week nicely. 

Hahah lets see, cette semaine we had lots of cancellations. That usually makes for a lot of unexpected free time to followup on past contacts and contact some new people. So we've been really great at following up with people, to the point that we were feeling a little like helicopter missionaries and decided we needed to go expand our contact pool. 

We had one lesson this week with a young family. Earlier in the week we had spoken with the husband and he was nice as can be and clearly had a strong faith in Jesus Christ. We showed up for our rendezvous on Saturday really excited to share the message of the Retablissement with them and have a Spirit-filled lesson. So we showed up and surprise surprise, it was nothing what we expected. For about an hour we sat there as they critiqued the Church and misinterpreted doctrine and sacred beliefs and told us we were wrong and misguided and didn't believe in Jesus Christ. Oh my heart hurts thinking about it. I think that's the hardest for me- when people think we don't believe in Jesus Christ, despite His name being written just below mine on the badge I wear over my heart. Turns out they had studied theology and had taken a class about the Church and our beliefs. What a testimony to me of how ineffective it is to learn true doctrine and teachings if the Spirit is not present. Though they learned sacred truths, they interpreted it to mean something entirely different, to the point that they thought we worshipped man and wrote our own books to replace the Bible. Nothing too uncommon as far as misconceptions go, but no less painful to hear. Sr Giles and I did our best to simply listen to them tell us what we believe, be receptive and try to testify of real truths and beliefs in a nonargumentative way. We're not here to prove anything. I'm not here to prove l'Eglise de Jesus-Christ des Saints des Dernier Jours is true, I'm here to testify and invite others to receive their own witness of the Saint-Esprit.

After that lesson we had a day full of porte-a-porte cause everyone else cancelled or no-showed. It was a day of feeling extremely spiritually and emotionally drained. Knocking on door after door, testifying endlessly, maintaining a happy, joyful spirit despite your heart still feeling a little over-squeezed. 

But Heavenly Father is a Father of endless love and mercy. By the time evening came around I was really seeking a Spirit-filled lesson full of simple gospel truths. Well after a final no-show, we went to an inactive soeur as a backup. She was home alone with her son and invited us in. In the past we had always done reallyyyy basic lessons with her family (not really sure why, it was just always like that). Well this time the Spirit in the room was entirely different. There was a stillness and peace. Me and Sr Giles were both drained almost dry and had more of a peaceful, calm Spirit than our usual, more energetic, enthousiastic one. As we began the lesson, Sr Giles asked some wonderful questions and the Spirit was there with us. We read from Alma 32 together and had a beautiful, simple lesson on faith and nurturing our faith to keep it growing and strong. Her heart was touched and so was mine. How grateful I am for this Gospel of simple truths. Simple, edifying truths. And for a Father in Heaven who knows our every need. 

On the other end of the spectrum we had the most WONDERFUL lesson with one of our amis. She's the mami that I used to teach. When we started teaching her (back at the beinning of my mission), she pretty much understood nothing. So we began to teach more simply and in smaller chunks. She began to understand. Then she started to retain doctrine from lesson to lesson. Well this Thursday we went and taught her. And we went over the Plan du Salut. And oh my sweet miracle, she UNDERSTANDS. She really, truly, deeply understands. We were asking deep questions and she was giving responses of true doctrine and principles. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing that change take place. Before she had never even touched a Bible, and now she is teaching US the Plan du Salut. The Lord truly works miracles. What a blessing to watch them unfold. 

At one conference with President Brewer, he talked about how if we could go back to our missions after 40 years and see the changes and miracles that have taken place, we would have to be rolled out on a gurney. Hahah that we would be shocked dead by the progress of the work. Well I believe him. Just in the difference between now and 6 months ago in Paita, I am constantly struck dumb. I'll be sitting in lessons with people I've known for over a year and they'll start to testify and I just sit there speechless and dumbstruck by the Lord's goodness and power to change us. 

Wow I really have a lot of time. Hahaha apologies if I'm rambling, but I'll continue. 

SUNDAY. Sunday was the BEST. Not because of a wild miracle story of 20 amis coming or anything, but because meeting after meeting I could feel my battery recharging and my spirit finding strength. We had fast and testimony meeting filled with beautiful testimonies. Our Sunday School was all about free agency and our capacity to choose good along with the incredible blessings that come as a result of our good use of our agency. Edified. I was edified and uplifted. 

Fun Facts:
-I have now been out on my mission for 15 months. Yikes. Ca passe vite, eh? 
-Sometimes me and Sr Giles try to speak really good english to each other and then find ourselves mistranslating things from french to english. It is hilarious and alarming. 
-Yesterday before church a less active dropped off 8 pastries and 2 baguettes at our house. Sums up Paita pretty well. 
-I GET TO GO TO BOURAIL TOMORROW. We have a zone meeting up north sweet praises!
-About 5 years ago New Caledonia had a maximum of 3-4 missionaries out at a time (from NC). Now there are over 20 youth from NC serving around the world. 

D'accord, I think that's a pretty real summary of the week. This work continues to be the most rewarding and challenging thing in my life. The Lord is full of surprises, but often I think they are surprises just because I underestimate His power and wisdom. May we all increase our faith in the Lord that He may more easily and frequently work miracles in our lives.

I love you all! 
Soeur Evans

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McKay in her Melanesian dress-- la Roche de percee

Soeur Evans and Soeur Giles

McKay with her Ami

Good Morning in beautiful Paita

Paita in background

Pampelmousse- a favorite fruit