Wednesday, July 29, 2015

And I Rejoiced

Bonjouuuuur la famille et mes autres cheris!

Oh my goodness me the amount of things that happened this week is unreal. This email will never be able to contain it all, but I'll do my best to capture a small impression of the joy and happenings of this delightful second-to-last week of mine.

Last week we met President and Sister Granger and their 19 year old daughter as they did their Mission Tour to meet us all.
McKay with Sister Granger and her daughter (photo Courtesy of Sis. Granger's daughter)
They had already met the missionaries in Vanuatua and the Solomon Islands, so we were the last on the list and thrilled that the time had arrived to get to meet our new mission president. And wow they are great. This mission is in very capable hands and how blessed I feel to have met them. 

So we had interviews on Wednesday. My final interview. It was a little different meeting the man who did my final interview for the first time when I walked in the door for the interview, but voila, that's how it worked out.

Then on Thursday we had a Zone Conference and I bore my "final testimony" which is in reality just a continuation of the testimonies I have born for the past year and a half and will continue to bear my entire life.

On Thursday night I had a strangely "normal person" evening. President and Sister Granger took us leaving missionaries and the leaders out to dinner (a total of 14 of us). It was a sweet moment to be with the soeurs that I began it all with and to look around the table and see that none of us are the same person as we were 18 months ago. How blessed I felt to be among a group of such incredible individuals.

Wow ok, this is totally not doing justice to the JOY of all of these moments, but I shall continue.

We got to  TIRE MANIOC with our sweet mami. In other words we got to cut down small trees and dig around in the most fertile dirt of all time to find their roots so that we could tear the roots out of the ground for the mami and us to eat. The dream. And may I just say that she was so delighted when she saw that soeurs don't mind digging in the dirt. Try as I might, these people think we are made of porcelain sometimes :)

Baaaaaaaah and then on Saturday we went to go see our miracle couple. Remember, the couple who skyrockets with progress every SINGLE time we see them? Well. The husband quit smoking! Sweet wonderful blessings! The only thing that is left before their baptism is to find a way to not work on Sundays, but they are full of faith and the Lord is full of miracles so I have no doubt that day will arrive in a very short time. Words cannot even express my love for this family.

AND then that's not even the end of the happy news. Given that I have been extremely isolated my entire mission and always in secteurs that are separated and cut off from other missionaries, I have never had a district activity or really done any Pday activity with missionaries. But now I can say I've done ONE :) I mentioned [the above] to our elders and on Sunday night they called and said they had organized a hike for Monday. Oh my heart was overflowing, I have wanted to explore this country for ages now. Long story short, we hiked through the wilderness up to a turquoise waterfall gorge. The water was cleaner than tap water. I was about as happy as can be sitting up on the rocks next to this waterfall drinking out of my hands and eating unsalted crackers.

So in essence Heavenly Father is making these last few weeks absurdly fun and full of goodness. We continue to be busy and have incredible miracles and progress in all of the amis that we see. People are feeling the Spirit. Their hearts are changing. And with it so are their lives.

This work is TRUE. This mission is a JOY.

As I near the end, Enos 1:26 is feeling quite personal. "And I saw that I must soon go down to my grave, having been wrought upon by the power of God that I must preach and prophesy unto this people, and declare the word according to the truth which is in Christ.  And I have declared it in all my days, and have rejoiced in it above that of the world."

Love you all. Be happy. Go outside. Breathe in God's creation and love God's children. 
Bisoux a vous tous in the words of a true Caledonienne, 
Soeur Evans

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Miracles Abounding

La plage de Toro in Paita,

Bonjour bonjour!

It's all starting to wind down. But the only thing that's really winding down is my time left in this beautiful country, with these incredible people, speaking this charming language and doing the best work on this planet. Other than that, our lessons, meal appointments, talks, and busyness are all increasing. We seriously are so crazy busy it's unreal.

On Wednesday I will meet our new mission president, President Granger, for the first time. We are so very excited to meet him and see what plans he has in store for this work and this mission. And then, 2 minutes after I meet him, I'll be doing my final, end-of-mission interview with him. On Thursday we have our Mission Conference with both zones and oh la laaaa i cannot wait! We haven't had a zone conference since April. Our spirits are hungry. I'll bear my "final" testimony in front of all the missionaries. Hahah we'll see, it might just be crying at a pulpit. No, not really, but wowzers this week is going to be extremely emotional and it's only the beginning.

First things first, we had the most incredible miracle. Well, in fact its a miracle that happened a few months ago, but we just found out about it the other night. We were in the middle of a lesson with our MIRACLE family that we found doing porte-à-porte. It was the couple, two of their sons, a girlfriend, us and Bishop. Powerful. And it was the wildest lesson, because we covered essentially every principe because they just kept asking questions about tithing and eternal families and baptism and the Holy Ghost and the priesthood and oh so many things. And the Spirit was there and the atmosphere was open and safe and loving.

Basically, we were in the middle of a really good lesson. At one point, Bishop testified of miracles, specifically in response to sincere, righteous prayers. We felt prompted to let the Spirit hang in the air after his testimony and me and Sr Giles both stayed silent. No one spoke. Quietly, I asked if anyone had a thought or a question. And the 25-yr old son sat up and said he had something to say "not a question, but an experience really, maybe a testimony if I could say that. I know that miracles really happen..." He then said that he took the lessons at one point with the missionaries, separately from his parents, but then decided that without the support of his parents he wouldn't be able to continue. He stopped seeing the missionaries for a while. Then, one night, he prayed to Heavenly Father and said, "If this is really the path you want me to take, you have to help me. My parents have to be a part of this too. They need to accept this Gospel as well." A week later, we showed up at their house. We began to talk to his father. His father invited us back. At the next lesson, both his parents met with us. Now, 3 months later, his parents think about baptism every single day and are changing thier lives to be worthy to make this covenant with the Lord.

As he shared this story during the lesson, me and Sr Giles were both just sitting there, listening intently to find out when he had a miracle. The last thought in our minds was that we were involved in any way. When he said, "A week later, les sœurs showed up at our house..." my mouth literally fell open. We had no idea. The Lord is the perfect author of our lives. This family has been perfectly prepared. Every time I think about them I am overcome with gratitude that the Lord saw us as worthy enough servants to be the missionaries that found them and are now teaching them. That is a privilege that is greater than this life: it extends eternally. Being a missionary is a blessing greater than I could ever imagine, but being someone's missionary is something even more humbling and incredible and sacred. These people are a part of my eternity.

Last week, we weren't able to see my favorit mami because of her docteur's visits, so this week we were especially excited for our lesson with her. On Wedesday we taught her. And she loved it. She asked us if we could come back on Thursday and Friday too. Of course, we said YES. And thus we got to teach her three days in a row and she could feel the light and the peace of the Gospel returning in her life with more force at each lesson. It's not us who bring that light and peace. It's the truth and the Spirit. But we preach the truth and do our best to live worthy and teach worthy of the Spirit, and the Lord does the rest. It's marvelous.

Remember that Futunian family we sung with. I'll be honest. At first, I thought they would be short-time amis- I didn't think their heart was in it. But as always, it is not our job to judge who is ready or not. And happily, I was wrong. They now read the Book of Mormon together. They are feeling the Spirit and recognizing it. The husband has begun to stop fighting and swearing of his own iniative (aka the Spirit is beginning to touch and change his heart). They are now extremely in progress.

The miracles are real. If there are no miracles in your life, it's not the Lord's fault. He never lacks on His half of the bargain. If there are no miracles, then we need to evaluate our OWN faith and obedience. With our faith (the power) and obedience (the condition), miracles begin to fill our lives.

I love this work with all that I am. It is not just missionary work, it is the work of salvation. And how grateful I am that that work continues on for our entire life, because it is the most rewarding work in this world.

I love you dearly.
Be happy and be faithful.
Sœur Evans

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Exhausted and Energized

Bonjour bonjour!

Well another week has passed and I have officially lost track of all time. I feel like today must be Friday given my exhaustion level, but alas, I'm just actually that tired. Pas grave! I'll sleep on the plane :)

We have officially zero free time now. We leave in the morning, usually don't have time to finish all of our studies and get home between 9:00 and 9:30, then planning until 10:00 most nights. But it is such a sweet tender mercy because I have no time to think about anything other than our amis and this work.

The other day I realized that I had passed my "one-month-to-go" mark and finally forced myself to literally count the days. I don't think my brain realizes how few lessons remain with all of these dear people.

All of our most solid amis cancelled this week. They are currently going through the fiery furnace of trial- their faith is being put to the test. Everyone gets to that point, and we expect it as missionaries. There must needs be an opposition to all things, so whenever we have a run of such incredible, Spirit-filled lessons its more of a question of when and what the trial will be. So we've been praying like crazy for them and hoping they turn to the Lord and let Him help them. They only cancelled to resolve the trials, but I absolutely can't wait to see them all, a week is much too long.

The other night we stopped by a family that I've known since my second day in New Caledonie. They are unreal. It was Sunday night at 8:00 and we hadn't eaten dinner yet, but I randomly thought of this family. So we give them a call and the mom answers and starts firing away the most wild story and tells us to come over and pray with her friends. Hahah so we head over to their house. And for the next hour we had the most interesting experience. We show up and there is a woman and her daughter sitting there with P. P is massaging the mother. There is smoke in the house from burning the little anti-moustique spirals. And then P directs us in singing 5 cantiques in a row at the top of our lungs. Meanwhile, 3 chihuahuas are eating a box under the table. And me and Sr Giles are just standing there next to the table because all of the chairs were full. Oh lalala it was hilarious. I kept laughing, but I love that family so much. They are so full of enthusiasm. Finally at the end we managed to share a spiritual thought before P, the mom, gave a powerful testimony of Joseph Smith and the Retablissment (she's not a member yet) and told her friends she would pick them up for church on Sunday. And honestly that is a pretty average experience in my day to day life.

We also got to go up to BOURAIL!!!!! Oh sweet blessings! We had a zone meeting yesterday, so we left at 7:30 and didn't get home until 6:00 with all the driving time. But it was the most wonderful feeling to be back in Bourail,even just for a few hours. As soon as I saw the first sign of a neighborhood I knew my heart swelled up inside of me. My love for that place runs so deep. I feel like that was the moment of my mission that really changed me.

Well sweet Sr Gunn had told people I'd be in Bourail for the Conference which meant I got to see some people.
I also got to see one of our old amis from Bourail. Remember the amie that broke up with us? She has started taking the lessons again. And she came to see me. What a beautiful moment to get to see her and see that light of the Gospel in her eyes once again. She is still one of the kindest women I've ever met and I am so very grateful she let the Gospel brighten her life once more.

Other than that we've had loads of other wild experiences. My charity is being put to the test. I am learning about patience and forgiveness and kindness. You learn so much when you visit so many people with so many stories and history.

I love you all!
Go find someone at church (or anywhere) and BE THEIR FRIEND. We need for Christlike love in this world and a whole lot less "exclusive" friendship.

Have a happy week!
Soeur Evans

Tuesday, July 7, 2015



Happy Fourth of July! For being on the other side of the world, we didn't do half bad celebrating- one of my favorite families made us burgers (with homemade from the french bakery burger buns), and then we taught a family with loads of little girls how to make cookies. Hahaha when they were done cooking and we finished our spiritual thought we all tasted them, immediately they all go, "Mmmmmm c'est bon! .....mais SUCRE!" (So good....but SWEET). Yikes our country uses a lot more sugar than in New Cal, I felt like my tastebuds were burning off. 

I still can't fully decide why, but this past week has been strangely spiritually exhausting. One night we both got home and after planning we were just laying there and I felt so very very drained. But as always, the joy and the peace come back when we're working our hardest and thinking about everyone but ourselves. So I've been focusing on that and praying for that spiritual strength I know and love to come back. 

Paita continues to do splendidly! But of course there are the disappointments spattered in between as well. As our wise senior missionaries said to us today, "How's the work?" "Good, it's really good :)" "Ah, that's why there's opposition. Satan will always work his hardest when the work is going well." Well he continues to fight us, but we're praying as hard as we can for our amis to come out conquerors. 

We have a lot of people working to quit smoking right now. And coffee. And have I ever mentioned that almost everyone here smokes. Pretty much members are the only ones who don't smoke. And coffee is a part of the daily diet starting in elementary school. So it's no easy task. But I have no doubt at all that it's possible and that these people can quit. Oh I love them so! Sometimes it kills me to not be able to do more to help them, but  repentance and preparation for baptism is a personal process is so many ways. We can't force them to turn to the Lord and receive His divine help- that must come from their own hearts. In the meantime we testify of the Atonement and the Lord's divine power as often as possible :)

The other day we had a training on faith and accessing the powers of heaven. It was incredible. It changed my entire perception of my mission and my life and what I allow the Lord to do by MY faith. Or what I limit by my lack of faith. I have a long long ways to go. How grateful I am for the Atonement that allows us to change and improve and become BETTER.

Of course, despite a week of some spiritual exhaustion, there were other beautiful miracles as well. One of our amis up and quit smoking and coffee! The mother of our miracle family! What a pillar of faith she is for her family. 

The Futunian singing family asked us to come back the next day. It is a dreammmmm when amis schedule us for the same week, so when they schedule us for the next day oh la lalaaaaaa. Another  mami interpreted the 10 commandments for us and was quoting doctrine and making connections like you wouldn't believe. This is the woman who a year ago didn't understand hardly any of the lessons. Ohhhh the Gospel changes us and enlightens us! 

I love you all endlessly. Time is so bittersweet now. This mission is the best thing. So grateful Heavenly Father knew I needed this :)

Loove forever, 

Soeur Evans