Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Lord is My LIght....

Bonjouuuur mes cheris!

Hello my dear sweet ones!

My heart and my head are about bursting with happiness. I just got a load of the most joyful picture-perfect pictures from my

family and oh la la they are just the cutest and most wonderful. 

On top of that we had the most superb week.

Every night I go to bed and just about burst to pieces with gratitude for the amazing day that just finished. My mission has been nothing I expected and everything I needed. And it is incredible to live these past few months because I feel like Heavenly Father opened up a GIGANTIC reserve of blessings and is just gushing them onto me, saying, "Wait! I still have all these blessings for you before you go, here you go!"

Basically, I am really happy.

Remember that couple we miraculously found doing porte-a-porte in a part of a secteur we're never in. Well we basically finish a lesson, can't stop talking about them for 3 days and then see them again and then can't stop talking about them for another 3 days and then it continues like that. They are everything a missionary to dream to meet and experience. We go to lessons expecting the best and come out having just experienced even better. I literally am shaking during every lesson with them cause the Spirit is so strong. My teeth practically start shattering. It may sound absurd, but the Spirit just fills my heart so full that it about bursts out.

I'll just list a few of the incredible things they have said, but it still won't do justice;
- "So what did you think of the verses we left last time?" "Oh, I haven't read them yet. I'm starting at the beginning and then I'll read all the way up to them..." "Ah, bon?? Haha ok!"
- "Did you notice a difference this week as you read the Book of Mormon every day?" "Well, yes. Of course. How could you not. (holding the BoM) Saying I don't want to read this book would be like saying, 'No thanks, I don't want an incredible peace in my life. No thanks, I don't want my family to be more unified. No thanks, I don't want to be happy.' Of course it's true. That's not a question..."
- "...The day I make that promise with God there is no backing out. I will not turn back. " (doesn't translate as well as in french)

They are just the most incredible family of all time. What a privilege to be 'their" missionaries.

And that is just a couple of so very many incredible people that we are teaching right now. Our amis are progressing. They are keeping COMMITMENTS! Sweet praises I have waited a long time to teach people like this. I have been praying for these people my whole mission. And it has been worth every single second. I would change nothing on my mission. Every experience has taught me and strengthened me and helped me to meet myself and meet the Lord on a deeper level. But these last few months are so sweet. Sweet is truly the best word I can choose, they are sweet.

We also tried to do our coutume to the tribal chief of the area. But he wasn't home when we went. Neither were his tribal counselors. So we have to go back another time. Sometimes contacting coordonees gets a little complicated :)

On Pday we went to the beach. This country is so incredibly beautiful. It never ceases to overwhelm me with gratitude. I have much more hints as to why Heavenly Father sent me out onto this island, but sometimes I still don't know how I deserved this all.

Our members are getting very involved in the work with us. FInally discovering the secret to getting members to work with you. Show them you care about the work more than you care about them. It sounds kind of odd maybe, but that's what made the difference here. We chose the work over everything else and now our members are catching the spirit too. It is UNBELIEVABLE the difference that members make. Secret to all of you members out there: We NEED YOU. And we need your HELP more than your FOOD. Also, we LOVE you so much.

Well, I hope that could sum up a little bit of the incredible joy of this week and of this work.

The Lord is my light. And oh how He's brightened my life.

I love you all endlessly, 
Soeur Evans

District Missionaries

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Oh Paita

Bonjour bonjour!!!
Well today was a mostly sending pictures day, so not much time to write.
This week we don't really know what happened, but somehow had way less lessons than usual. But sometimes that happens. The work goes on and I have no doubt it will pick right back up again this week.
We had an activite fete des peres this Saturday (Fathers day Activity) and we had FOUR amis come!!! Two of our wonderful wonderful couples! And bless our sweet members they even made friends! It is something else to sit back and watch as amis get welcomed into the ward family. It was a night of some weird awkwardness and also some good laughs. All good things.
We also fixed a date de bapteme with one of our amies! Oh sweet blessings it is so exciting. This ami, C, is someone I've taught since my first week on my mission and I love her so much. She is working so hard to prepare herself for baptism. She has struggled and struggled to quit smoking and hasn't yet been able to. But we had a powerful lesson with her and I can just feel a miracle about to happen. I just about burst open at lessons with her because of the incredible progress she makes and how much I love her. She came to the baptism of a 9 year old convert on Friday (the elders recent converts' father baptized their son) and the Spirit was so strong.
When we fix baptismal dates it is 100% based on the Spirit. We pray and then we "feel it out" in our minds and in our hearts. We cycle through a bunch of dates and months in our heads until one of them seems to "stick". It sounds abstract and unreliable, but when you are really in tune with the Spirit, we can pick dates with a certaintly that otherwise wouldn't be possible. Well given that I leave so soon and that I love this amie so much, I was feeling a little too biased to really pick the date. So I mostly left the decision up to Soeur Giles. We had picked August 22, but then we prayed a final time to make sure and at the end of the prayer she goes, "Ok. I'm not just saying this to make you happy or because I like you. I really think it's supposed to be August 8" "Nooooooo! No way, I am too biased, are you sure?" Well, we prayed about it and felt pretty good, but to me it still felt too good to be true, given that I fly out of this place on August 10th normally. But during the lesson I felt with such strength that we needed to invite her to be baptized onAugust 8th and oh lalal you cannot even imagine the joy in my heart.
Paita continues to become dearer and dearer to me. These people that I thought I already loved are becoming such true friends. I feel so at ease with them and want to do everything I can to bless their lives. It is such a blessing to be here.
I forgot to mention last week...I will be FINISHING MY MISSION IN PAITA!!! Hahahahahah it is unreal. I started my mission in this secteur, and now I'll be ending it here. That will make one year total in this place. But it is such a privilege to get to know these amis and members on a such a deep level and over sucha long period of time.
Time to go. Love you all! Have a delightful week. 
Tell someone you love them. Smile til your cheeks hurt. Be excited when you see someone.
Much love!
Soeur Evans
Everyday sunset with New Caledonian Pines

Typical little house

A little Jurassic Park Action in New Caledonia-- yes it's a grasshopper

Souer Giles and Soeur Evans at abandoned ship

Soeur Giles and Soeur Evans on the abandoned ship

Sister Missionaries at the Beach-- winter style

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I am happy

Bonjouuuur bonjour bonjour. 

Well all the weeks are blurring together because they are all full of miracles and the Spirit and the most wonderful experiences week after sweet week. 

May I just say again that missions are the greatest gift? Just as in everything He does, Heavenly Father asks for a little sacrifice just so He can drench us in blessings. I'm convinced that missions are 18 months, or 24 months, of the most abundant, profound blessings we young, anxious 19 year old children have ever experienced. And by the end of them we learn to be adults. Adults who LOVE the Lord, who hunger for the Spirit, who seek after words of wisdom and who yearn to serve. 

If I seem to repeat myself between emails, I just can't help myself. I don't want anyone to doubt the goodness of God or the blessing of serving a mission. 

As I said, we had another delightful week. We keep losing our study hours or planning hours because we schedule people back to back and still have some people who don't fit in. It is the most wonderful thing. 

Of course, that being said, there are still cancellations and no-shows and all of those real life oppositions, but the Lord is blessing us in a different way here than I've experienced up to this point. He is blessing us with lots of WORK. 

Happy little miracle. Because we can't do Reunion de District with only 2 soeurs and 2 elders, I haven't had a district meeting in months (given that's the situation in Bourail and Paita both). We were missing that chance to have trainings and correlation and some spiritual nourishment. Today we gave ourselves our own little miniature formation (training) during our etude en equipe and at the end I was literally bounding with joy walking out the door because I was feeling so edified and motivated to do better. Haha the Spirit works wonders. Well about an hour later we got a call from our district leader that we'd get to do a district meeting this week. Oh sweet heavenly response to prayers! 

Meanwhile every time we look at our board in our house with the names of our amis written on it I am overcome with gratitude. We have been so blessed to be led to incredible people. Prepared people. 

Lately we've been having to cancel meal appointments with members to be able to teach our amis at night after they come home from work. At first they were a little disappointed, but it has done wonders for our work. Not only do we fit in more lessons, but our members trust us. They know we're working. They know we love the work. They know the work is more important to us than meal appointments or member soirees. And now they are giving us coordonees. Oh la la member coordonees (referrals) are golden! They are so prepared and us missionaries couldn't ask for anything more wonderful!

Today we taught an ami about la dime (tithing). She lives in a tiny cabane made of tin. She grows half of what she eats. She is 72 and cares for her 33 year old son with down syndrome who can't speak. At the beginning of the lesson her immediate reaction to tithing was that she coudn't pay it because it was already hard enough to nourish her own family. But by the end she was the one testifying to the blessings of GIVING. I love this little woman down in the deepest part of my heart. Last week I was bawling as I testified to her of temples and the celestial kingdom. Heavenly Father has quadrupled my heart out here. 

We went to a lesson last week and as soon as we showed up I felt uneasy. I was trying to eye Soeur Giles and our member to see how they were feeling, but I couldn't tell. Well, we sat down for the lesson, and I'm thinking to myself, "ok, I think we need to go. But this is gonna be killer awkward to tell him, 'Hello, how are you? Thanks so much for having us, we actually have to go now cause I feel a little uneasy and I think its the Spirit...' " There I am trying to think of a good way to go about this when he begins to tell us that he was thinking about cancelling with us tonight. I quickly said we'd be happy to come back another time instead. As we walked out and drove our member home I found out that all three of us had been feeling the same uneasiness. When the Lord gives us promptings, He also gives us the means to follow them.

One of our members asked us to visit her sister who lives in a tribu. Yep, Paita has tribus too! One of the few cities down south with tribes. Of course, to go into the tribus, we have to do the coutume. That means we have to be presented to the grand chef, the big chief, and offer him a "gift" of money and fabric while explaining who we are. It is a very deep part of the Melanesian culture here. Well we showed up with our member to go meet the chef and he wasnt' home. Hahah awesome. Now our member is in Tahiti for a few months, so we're going to go with another Melanesian couple in the stake. Praying that we don't offend the chief of all the tribus in Paita haha I laugh but it's real. So grateful I've already done coutume up in Bourail so it's less intimidating, but wow traditions are deep here. 

Fun tidbit: Tribes are the most beautiful places on this island. The people who live in tribes are the Melanesians whose ancestors were the only ones living in New Caledonia a hundred years ago or so. They know and respect this country in such an intimate, sacred way. And this country loves them back. As soon as you walk into a tribe it is full of lush green and overflowing gobs of tropical flowers. Fields of banana trees are heavy with fruit and other fields are bursting with fruits and vegetables. They don't just have a "green thumb", 

Other than that we had lesson upon lesson of the Spirit accompanying us. 

I am happy.

Love you all!
Soeur Evans

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bold and Busy


Hello my sweets!

This week will be short, but I'll do my best.

The giant tender mercy was getting to hear from Elder Kevin Pearson of the Seventy. He came to our Stake Conference this weekend and gave two WONDERFUL discourses to the entire stake. And then he asked to do an special missionary training as well on Sunday evening. Oh la la it was incredible. Highlights:
- Teaching us to be agents, not objects. Objects are acted upon, but agents ACT. It is up to us to have a spiritual experience at church, to feel the Spirit, to strengthen ourselves. It is up to us to act and do and not just wait on the person at the pulpit to inspire us and motivate us to get off our chair and ACT. Loved that. Spot on. 
- He told us to raise our expectations.
- We have to push ourselves over the frontier of faith. It is after that borderline that we will see miracles. And of course to get there, we have to improve our attitude and be diligent. Hard work hard work hard work and also genuine happiness. 

So so many other wonderful things. He is Bold with a capital b. But behind it all was a pure love. When you truly love others you will tell them the truth to help them become better. Maybe it will make them squirm a little, but when it is coming for someone how loves them, they will reflect and then, they might actually GET BETTER. I definitely appreciated his comments and was wishing I'd heard them approximately 16 months ago so I could apply them for more of my mission. But I'll just make the most of these last 2 months :)

Our weeks continue to be full to the brim. We run from lesson to lesson and still don't fit some people in. It kills me when someone calls and has to reschedule because it usually means it will be another week until we see them. The worst, but I guess it's also the best? I've never been so busy in all my mission.

After a much too long 2 weeks (for the above reason), we saw my favorite miracle couple again. The wife said she missed us and it was way too long to wait to see us again. She has miracles experiences every time we come that have happened during the week. It is amazing the progress they are making. We scheduled our following lesson for four days later :) Much sooner. 

Another couple we teach is usually a little more hesitant. They are Protestant and like meeting with us but are less interested in doing anything with what we teach. Well we love teaching them and they have so much potential, so we always go hoping to touch their hearts. One day something will click and they will just latch onto it all, I just know it. During our lesson this week we read Alma 32 with them and, quite boldly thanks to Elder Pearson's counsel, invited them to nourish the word we've been giving them if they want to see the fruit. Aka, read the Book of Mormon. After reading the chapter together, the Spirit was so strong and their eyes seemed to be all lit up. The clarity of this sacred book had touched them and (hopefully) ignited a new desire to discover it for themselves. We felt prompted to ask them if they'd noticed a difference in their life since we started coming. Had they had a "gonflement de coeur"? A swelling of their heart? The wife was nodding like a crazy person before the question was even over. She has become more patient, more faithful, more loving. And then she said one of my favorite phrases. "When you don't come, it's like I'm hungry. I get hungry for your visits. They make me feel so good". The Spirit and the word can truly change our hearts.

I'm out of time, but I love you all. The Lord work miracles! Plan for a busy busy day and He makes it happen. Fill your agendas with all the details to do good and He realizes them! 

My heart is full.

Love for always and forever,
Soeur Evans

Monday, June 1, 2015

Where My Treasure Lies

Bonjour bonjour!!

Hope you are all happy and well!

This week was full of lots of things, but I've forgotten most of them due to last Friday night.

This week celebrated the 3-year anniversary of the Stake in New Caledonia! The church here is still so young and tender, but continues to grow and strengthen. They had another wonderful celebration with all the members. Every ward presented a different country and put on a dance. And when the islanders dance, they DANCE. Oh it was delightful. My favorites, of course, were the Iles Loyaute (our own small islands) dances and the India dance. (Shout out to Hay you would have just died it was the same dance as in Bride and Prejudice).

So we had that wonderful evening and came home at 9:00.

And long story short, we were robbed.

Someone broke in through a window and stole some of our things. Hahah they were probably sorely disappointed because we have so few things of value. Temporal value that is. But they still got away with some of our things. Well, we called the gendarmes (police), and got our house all fingerprinted and got to try to explain the situation to these gendarmes in french the whole situation. And turns out I've learned a lot of new words in French. We filed a complaint at the gendarmerie (police station), talked to insurance and are now house hunting. Heavenly Father is teaching me all sorts of life skills.

Don't worry, we're totally fine. We were a little shaken up for a couple nights, but now it just feels like a funny joke that we keep telling people. Never expected that experience on my mission haha.

All in all, I learned some wonderful lessons about my priorities and where my treasure lies. The few things I had of temporal value were taken from me. And while for a few hours that was annoying and a little frustrating, now I hardly care any more. My true treasure is spiritual: my testimony, my faith, the sacred, spiritual experiences I have lived and continue to live. These things can never be taken from me, they can't be snatched or robbed or burglarized. I can protect those eternally in my heart and keep them sacred and strong and lasting.

I now hide the few things of temporal value that I have. But I also find myself keeping my scriptures constantly beside me. They are an infinite treasure. Sometimes I have to remind myself that to a robber they are just a book and that I can set them down sometimes and leave them on my desk, because to me they are full of precious truths and personal answers and words of eternal worth that everyone would want.

How grateful I am to be filling my life with GIVING. Each day I get to give and give and give. And the things I give and share cannot be stolen.

Soeur Giles and I have been incredibly blessed to have the Spirit FILL our lessons. It's incredible to look back on the week and remember powerful lesson after powerful lesson. As we sit together across from these dear amis I can almost feel the Spirit overflowing the room. As I bear testimony my heart just about explodes with warmth and peace. These truths are TRUE. They are precious.

I truly cherish these feelings and confirmations of the Spirit more than almost anything else. Lessons have become a recharge for my batteries because we walk out and can still the feel the Spirit lingering in their home and within our hearts.

I often feel quite overcome with emotion. But not in the way I used to be. Before my emotion was much more exterieur, but now it seems to fill me on the inside. Don't be fooled, I'm still a blank canvas of emotion when it comes to excitement and all that, but the sweet peaceful whisperings of the Spirit don't leak out of my tearducts as often.

Well, I love you all tremendously. I think of you often and rejoice in your happiness.

What do you truly value in your life? Is your treasure more spiritual or temporal? I'll certainly be asking myself those questions a lot more in my life :)

much loooove,
soeur evans