Sunday, November 30, 2014

Meeting an Apostle!

Hey mom hows it going? I hope you are having so much fun with Court being home and send me pics of the bathroom! haha I will try and send my sd card home with all my pics soon too. I love you so much for sending that package it was sooooo nice! And Soeur Simpsons mom just sent us a ton of peanut butter and everything to make muddy buddies lol. So were excited. Not much has happened this week except the super cool experience with the apsotle!! AHH SO COOL! He talked a lot about missionary work, obviously, haha but a lot about why we were chosen to come to that spicific mission, he said there are three feelings we get as apostles when we assign someone to a mission. 1. They need that mission president and wife. They will work wonderful together and learn together to be better diciples of Christ. Besides your parents they are the next most influential people and recieve more personal revelation for you than anyone else on this earth. 2. The people need you and you need the people. You have a light that you will share with them and it will bless and change your life as well as those you serve. 3. The future. Your work might not be meant for this day, but you will plant the seeds in their hearts for many years to come. also the language you might need in future imployment, or need the skills you will learn for a future need. 
After this he said if however we dont put someone in the right mission you proceed to the next with a bitter feeling, then the next and the feeling gets worse and worse, utill you have maybe only put three others in missions before you cant even think about anything until you go back and ponder and pray to see where they need to go. Elder Cook said every missionary is put in the right place no matter what. He promised every missionary and gave us the blessing that our missions here would bless others that we meet in life, our families, and friends more than ever. He promised that one day we will know why we were chosen to come to this mission and serve in France. Which I thought was really cool. He really gave us a ton of motivation for this week. Which was nice after a really rough last week. But we taught 12 lessons so that was amazing number for Nogent! Whoohoo! I am sorry I dont have much time got to go! I love you and im sending a letter and some stuff for christmas slowly but surely. LOVE YOU oh went to the Louvre last week, really cool, and more today! I have a ton of pics!!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sister Tupai, Clara ( being baptized) and Sister Stevens


Ashley with her old and new companions (November 2014)


                                   Sister Simpson, Sister Stevens and Sister Tupai

"Trust in the Lord, and believe in good things to come."

So this week was a week. Ah I dont even know where to begin my email to you, but for starters a family in the ward asked us to come over for Christmas Eve for skype calls so it will be the 24th when I call YAY!
Ok, So about my "baby bleu" as they call new missionaries here. She is amazing. Literally amazing. She speaks really well the language. We work well together, shes from Kaysville, UT and went to Utah State. Shes majoring in marketing so shes pretty bomb at contacting! Its AWESOME! She worked in Capitol Hill Washington DC before the mission for congressman Bishop, and gave tours of the Hill and captiol! HOW CRAZY IS THAT! Anyway so shes super professional, and sometimes Im like, oh yeah Im supposed to be the trainer lol... Shes super smart she's picked up on the trajet really fast. Honestly, in 4 weeks she could train here no doubt about it! But, at the same time I have never been more humbled in my life. Now more than I am seeing my weaknesses. I am trying so hard, but its really one of the most difficult weeks of my life. I've cried everday... which is wierd for me, I've become super emotion since I've become a trainer. In the mission they call it a "mother" so I'm here mom, and shes my daughter. Well, now i understand why, I really do feel like her mom in a sense, and I just want to protect her from the people we meet everyday, and I can understand all the harsh things people say to us, and whenever she asks, wait i didnt catch all they said, i find myself, just saying, oh they just didnt have time to talk to us,... But, it was a hard week. All of our appointments fell through and there was one day we did contacting all day and had 0 lessons taught. It was horrible, I feel like the worst missionary ever having nothing for my bleu to teach. So Sunday the District leader called and we talked about mission life, and he was like, I cant believe your actually training, theres an Elder here whose in his 15 and never trained... Its a really big responsibility, but the Lord trusts you. You can do it. Soeur tupai told me, what I always told her when we had a bad day our favorite quote from Elder Holland, "Trust in the Lord, and believe in good things to come." Honestly I am really struggling climbing this mountian... its a little icy this time... and Im really tired. But I know the Lord would never let me down. He gives us tiny miracles everyday. I'm lucky for what I have, and I am realizing slowly that gratitude is more than just meerly being thankful. Its a way of life. constantly looking at the glass half full and knowing that any of our trials are just a small moment compared to the eternity to come. I read a talk by Uchtdorf and this week I kept looking at S.Tupai not being here as a trial, and an end to something good, but in it he said, 

"It must have been this kind of testimony that transformed the Savior’s Apostles from fearful, doubting men into fearless, joyful emissaries of the Master. In the hours following His Crucifixion, they were consumed with despair and grief, unable to understand what had just happened. But one event changed all of that. Their Lord appeared to them and declared, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.”11
When the Apostles recognized the risen Christ—when they experienced the glorious Resurrection of their beloved Savior—they became different men. Nothing could keep them from fulfilling their mission. They accepted with courage and determination the torture, humiliation, and even death that would come to them because of their testimony.12 They were not deterred from praising and serving their Lord. They changed the lives of people everywhere. They changed the world.
You do not need to see the Savior, as the Apostles did, to experience the same transformation. Your testimony of Christ, born of the Holy Ghost, can help you look past the disappointing endings in mortality and see the bright future that the Redeemer of the world has prepared.......
In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.
Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless13 and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.
I am realizing more and more about having gratitude even in our times of trial. And no matter what our infulence will change the world. :)
 I read the simily that Christ gives to the people the week before he performs the atonement and he said in summation. If we are a farmer that has seed but never plants it, we will never grow wheat. So we must first sacrafice what we know we have with faith and gratitude, hard work, and in the end we will have 10 fold what we started with. I really feel like that is the mission. You need to sacrafice all you have in the biginning, everything to be a consecrated missionary, but in the end we have an eternity of blessings 10 fold what we first sacraficed. I really liked this and as I am trying to work my hardest and be the best example to my bleu God will help us. He has changed me already, and I know that slowly he will mold me into the missionary I am meant to be. I just hope its soon, becuase its really a painful process haha. 
I LOVE YOU and have a wonderful thanksgiving :) PS i tried to do a gratitude email because its thanksgiving. Also the apostle Cook is coming to our mission to talk on Thursday the 20th so yay! Excited for that! Love you tons! 
Soeur Stevens

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Baptism, call to be a trainer and some inspiring words from mission president...

Thank you so much for your email. I really appreciate the updates on day to day life. But I have big news for you this week, so Im not sure if you know already or not but, I am called to be a TRAINER this next transfer! So 3 more months in Nogent/Paris. Its ok I really dont mind staying here. S. Tupai is going up north right next to Beligum (Valancienne I think) I sent dad the report of where all the missionaries will be. So Im kinda nervous my next companion will be straight out of the MTC. I will train her in the field. I dont know if shes American, or a francophone. Either one, im nervous. So the memorable day of November 8th, 2014. Started out just contacting around Nogent and at 11:45 the assistants to the President called and asked me if I would accept the Lords calling as being a trainer this next transfer(at 12 is when they stop calls because they will sent the email out to everyone that says where you are going, so I really thought i was in the clear lol). I of course had to say yes! So that was crazy! Then we went to the church and learned S. Tupai will be a regular missionary again in the North. I think she was kinda sad that she wasnt a trianer again, or an STL. I feel bad. Either way, I know mountains lay ahead for us both, and we both have the faith to climb them! Im so thankful that she was my trianer, I just hope I can be half as good as her. I mean you cant get much better than a francophone as a trainer lol. I really lucked out. So then after this we went back and started to prep everything for our baptism!!! I cant believe I had a baptism this week too! Clara is just so wonderful. and the Sunday she was confirmed she hugged me so tight and said "I love you more than you could ever know" AHHHHH!!! I just about died. Shes truely found her happiness and it lies in the gospel. I really was just a voice that the Lord could use in conversion. It was so sweet and the ward has just come together better than ever! Its the perfect set up for me to train. I really believe this was Heavenly Fathers plan from the beginning. These next few months will be the hardest months of my mission Im pretty sure, alone in Paris... lol I think she will do more than Im expecting... I hope. The district didnt really change all that much other than me being a trainer, Elder Powelson left he was called to be a Zone Leader up in Beligum, he was so happy! He was praying for responcibilities and to go to Belgium and he got both! And the missionary taking his place with the missionary he trained is awesome, so im sure hes jumping for joy lol. Also transfer day is Wednesday so thats when Ill get to meet her and take her home with me to Nogent! There will also be pictures posted on Wednesday on facebook, so if you want to look it will be then. 
This week has just been a whirlwind of experiences and Im ready for Wednesday to be here, all we have the next two days are lessons with members and our new converti Clara! Yay haha so Ive just been preping everything for the end of the week with my new comp. I really need your prayers now more than ever. I might not be perfect at the language, but I know i know enough to get around and talk to people. I just have to be humble and more than anything charitable towards everyone. 
Thank you for the SS thing it worked! I need to buy some winter shoes, and tights, its getting colder and colder, its only 40's but its so humid here that it just turns into a wet cold. ah... But the coat I got last Pday was a big blessing! 
Sounds like the bathroom is going to be different when i get home!! WHOOOHOOO gone with the bright yellow lol. Sounds like Dad's having a tough time at work and looking to be done. Sorry to hear about that. Wish I could have been there in the kitchen with you cooking and making all your Christmas goodies. I cant believe how close Christmas is! I cant think of anything for you to send, but i really like soft hehe its cold here and im out 24/7 sooo.... 
Anyway this Pday were just going to Paris and Tupai will get to do her last shopping in her favorite stores, just a really relaxing day. I will miss her so much, but I know these mountains were made for me to climb, so why not start now lol. 
I had a moment before the baptism where I just got to think about everything and my new call and about the last two transfers. I really dont know why Im here exactly but I did get a conformation that it was the plan Heavenly Father created for me, this is exactly where i need to be right now. And I know the Lord is pleased with my time in Nogent with Soeur Tupai, and there is no greater feeling than that. 
I emailed the president about my concerns on contacting, french, and just about everthing. He said some very sweet words back. I was expecting a list of what to do and what not, but in the end he said this,"Merci Soeur Stevens pour votre lettre et pour votre question. En fait j'ai l'impression que vous êtes trop concentrée sur la langue française et que vous n'êtes donc pas assez disponible pour recevoir l'inspiration et la reconnaitre. Merci pour tous vos efforts et poour votre désir d'être un vrai disciple de Jésus Christ. Nous vous aimons.."

It translates" Thank you S STevens for your letter and your question. In fact i am impressed that you are so consecrated in the french language, you are too worried about thinking in perfect french rather than feeling the impressions of the holy ghost. Thank you for your efforts and your sincere desire to be a true diciple of Jesus Christ. We love you."
There was more, but that was pretty much what I needed to hear. Its ok, not to be perfect at french. As long as I am listening to the spirit, it will work out fine. 
Thank you for you words of comfort and kindness. I look forward to the next monday! 
Love, Ashley

Monday, November 3, 2014

Some very insightful answers to questions I asked Ashley…..Immeasurable joy sharing the gospel & a mountain and a shovel.

You brought up many good points in your email, that i have time to talk with you about. 
1.One of the biggest and hardest things we deal with as missionaries is always as you said being charitable, serving constantly, and never judging. For example, we worked with one of our amis "Mary" for months, always asking ward members to help, worrying about how to get her to church, if she will follow up on our commitments, and so on. But in the end the question of baptism came, and she was just not ready. It was super hard, when they cant change thier lives, and you look back on the time and effort you put into making sure this person would feel so ready, and then in the end nothing happened. Its very disheartening, but we must push forward with the work. In Preach my Gospel it says it best, "

When people choose not to investigate the restored gospel, your work is not wasted. Your consistent efforts in serving and teaching as many people as you can is one way God prepares His children to eventually receive His servants. He often reaches  out to His children through you. Even when people do not accept the opportunity to learn the gospel, your service and words are evidence of God’s love for them and may plant seeds that future missionaries and members of the Church will harvest.   When people do not accept the gospel, do not be discouraged. You have raised warning voice. You have given them clear choice. Disciples of Christ feel sorrow when people choose not to repent, but they maintain vision of who they are and what they are doing. They continue to diligently move forward.|

We must strive to help everyone we can, and yes many and most will reject the message, we just have to understand that, but if we didnt try all that we could with ever person, we might not ever have anyone. We did the same with our other ami Clara, and she did choose to change her life, shes being baptised this Saturday! And the joy we have is just immeasurable. Just to see that one person come unto Christ, it can really change your perspective. 

2. About the foreign missions, honestly just about every missionary here wishes that they could be in a state side mission at one point or another, its really hard, the language, the people, and especially adjusting to not only thier culture but life as a missionary too. I feel like god really has given me a mountain with this mission, and handed me a shovel. But I try my best at it, and the work is going well. We struggling to find amis that can progress towards baptism. Its really hard here in France, and as a missionary we dont get sent to the cute touristy towns in France, we get the ghetto, where peoples hearts are open and willing to hear to gospel. Its really hard, but in the end everything is worth it. 

I love you mom, and this week flew by i cant believe how fast! On saturday we will have our next transfer already! 


Hey dad! Yeah this week has been pretty chill, really fast! And yeah we do a lot of door to door and street contacting, nothing ever comes from door to door though, but because its winter we cant contact on the streets, so its pretty chill nights of just "coeuring" door to door. Yes also if you can please send some classical music! But if you dont have any you can just send the christmas! S.Tupai was praying we would get it before she leaves lol shes like "I want an american christmas!" lol. But send it whenever works, shes gone anyway lol. I dont think ill train next transfer, idk who will come to Nogent either. Glad to hear that Halloween went awesome and the pumpkins were as cool as ever lol. I want mom to learn FRENCH! You can come pick me up and spend a week in France :) and we can all speak the language! No news on Ebola, except they didnt let a ton  of people back from vacation lol because they wouldnt take planes from african countries with ebola, so its kinda sad a lot of people cant come home yet. Madeline and i just walked the champs together, not much. 
Im really nervous for transfers and my next companion, and i guess my exchange with the STL in Nancy well... i think she didnt like me very much because president wrote to S.Tupai that i had no social skills in contacting.. it was horrible, mostly because the girl i did exchanges with is HORRIBLE! she took us to a neighbor hood that had 3 women walking on the street, and i was like ok, im the missionary dont you want to see how im contacting people but she contacted each one of them and it was super awkward... oh and it was like pelting rain in my face so it was a horrible exchange, we didnt do anything and S.Tupai was so mad it was crazy!! So now shes writing the president how much this girl was not doing what she should have lol... anyway enough of my ranting.
Excited for the baptism this saturday and such!!! YAY!!!!!! Tell you more next week. But now i dont think the president trusts me to be a trainer, and i really dont care. But i think i will email him and just tell him whats going on, My district leader was really mad at the STL's too lol. So we will see..
Thanks for the music! I really appreciate it, i dont have much else i can think of to go on it but i love you and have a fun time in Oregon!