Sunday, May 3, 2015

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

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