Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ashley's updates, thoughts, and beautiful testimony

OK,  first I'll answer your questions,
1. yes i do write  a lot of other people, but no big email to everyone, im not a talented writer for those such things.
2. Weather, Bretagne is the weirdest weather in the world im telling ya, it changes from hail to 80 degrees sunshine in 20 minutes then to overcast fog the next. but so far i've been getting used to it. 
3. Knees and feet, like I said, its been a rough journey for them both, but I'll be fine, the Lord always gives us blessings. 
4. Coats are fine, its summer soon anyway. 
5. Money is fine, things are much cheaper now that I'm not in Paris anymore
6. Just the office moved the mission home is the same address.
7. Yes that is our church building, really pretty eh? and yes bishop is Bishop Letort, love that guy he is really an effective bishop, we get a lot done in Ward Council lol
8. Nope its not too far, about a 20-25 minute walk, there arent any busses on suday, but its some how always sunshiny and we love seeing the blossoms on the trees :)

ok, I'm not really sure what you want out of this email... so I'll try my best to please you haha. 
Right now personally I have done some major soul searching to how to become a better missionary, and person in general. I created two things I need to work on the most, (a good way to find out is the Christlike attribute activity in PMG chapter 6) and that is patience, and obedience. 
I realize there are a lot of times, i guess just living the fast pace city life has killed my stop to smell the roses side, and I need it back. So now I just try and breath a lot, and if something doesn't go the way planned its ok, find something to laugh about, and remember the bigger picture. I've just realized that being the older missionary you need to be the mature one, so when nobody wants to go to ward council, you suck it up and go anyway because it is your responsibility... still a little bitter about that one lol, I love ward council! I have just really tried to be more patient with others right now, knowing that we all have different backgrounds, and lifestyles, and not everyone will mix perfectly, we will always have something to work on and be better at. I made a chart for myself in my study journal so I can report to myself on how patient I am everyday..the day I get a 5 will be the best day ever haha. Next I am really trying to work on obediences with exactness, sometimes its easy to stay an extra 5 minutes for dinner, or to start comp study at 9:10 so we get extra personal study,,, im pretty guilty of that. but I know we will see miracles when we are obedient, and the more I work on it the more success we see. 

Also I was going to mention that I was studying the topic, "if all things happened for a reason" ya know.. well I found some very interesting chapters and notes in Jesus the Christ.
" Let not ignorance and thoughtlessness lead us into the error of assuming that the Father’s foreknowledge as to what would be, under given conditions, determined that such must be.  we will always have our agency on the earth, no matter what he has planned.
Man Free to Choose for Himself.“The Father of souls has endowed His children with the divine birthright of free agency; He does not and will not control them by arbitrary force; He impels no man toward sin; He compels none to righteousness. Unto man has been given freedom to act for himself; and, associated with this independence, is the fact of strict responsibility and the assurance of individual accountability. In the judgment with which we shall be judged, all the conditions and circumstances of our lives shall be considered. The inborn tendencies due to heredity, the effect of environment whether conducive to good or evil, the wholesome teachings of youth, or the absence of good instruction—these and all other contributory elements must be taken into account in the rendering of a just verdict as to the soul’s guilt or innocence. Nevertheless, the divine wisdom makes plain what will be the result with given conditions operating on known natures and dispositions of men, while every individual is free to choose good or evil within the limits of the many conditions existing and operative.

“Our Heavenly Father has a full knowledge of the nature and disposition of each of His children, a knowledge gained by long observation and experience in the past eternity of our primeval childhood; a knowledge compared with which that gained by earthly parents through mortal experience with their children is infinitesimally small. By reason of that surpassing knowledge, God reads the future of child and children, of men individually and of men collectively as communities and nations; He knows what each will do under given conditions, and sees the end from the beginning. His foreknowledge is based on intelligence and reason. He foresees the future as a state which naturally and surely will be; not as one which must be because He has arbitrarily willed that it shall be."

Well, I hope you find in those what I did, especially the first part about Heavenly Fathers foreknowledge and that he impels none forward or backward. I underlined some of my favorite parts. But I still don't know what would win on earth, mans agency, or divine intervention, so yeah thats been a question of topic recently for us too. 

Ok, another thought, there are moments when I just ask myself, "are you serious is this ONLY halfway!" like i have been here for an eternity, isnt this enough Heavenly Father, Im not required to be here, why me? Then there are the times that I realize, and want to cry at my ignorace for every moment we are here we are given 10 fold the blessings, how could we ever say I;m good I've had enough blessings for the day. Oh then I have to go repent and realize what I am doing here. There are days when it is very hard, and all you recieve is rejection, and then the zone leaders email you about how we are not getting enough numbers, we need to work harder, have bigger faith, and trust in miracles, then I just want to cry, "isnt this enough" but I know it will never be enough, in order for us to do enough, we would die. We have to be satisfied with our best somedays. And then I read Hollands talk, "Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience.Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.
For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.
If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, “Abba, Father (Papa), if this cup can pass, let it pass,” 11 then little wonder that salvation is not an easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.
When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life." 
Then I realize that ever person that has rejected us has made us just a little closer to the most perfect life that has ever lived. And that makes all the difference. Remembering that it never will be easy, and that with great trials comes even greater triumph. 
I love you mom, and I will close with a short testimony, I am running out of time. I know without a doubt that Jesus is the Christ, he suffered for every person that has ever lived, or will live on this earth. He is the Son of God, who has created a plan for us to live together again. I know that Joseph Smith, though a young boy, was called to be the intermediary during the restoration. I will testify to you that there was no other time in history more perfect than the year 1820 that the Lord restored his church. I know that this is the truth, I have seen miracles, lives be changed, and most of all the tender mercies of the Lord everyday on this mission. It is the best decision I have ever made, if anything I just wish I would have made it sooner, and prepared myself better for it. I love this gospel with all my heart, and I know it is the truth, we will become better people by following the teachings of the prophet. I know that through prayer we can speak to God, and by the Holy Ghost he speaks to us. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 
I love you mom, and in france we would say bisous :) Au revoir (when you translate that it means until we re-see eachother) 
Your missionary, Soeur Ashley Stevens

Monday, March 16, 2015

Happiness and foreordination

 Found some other quotes during my studies this week that i really liked.
I was re reading the last chapter of Jesus the Christ, and after he talks about the plan of slavation and our glory in the end
"The happiness that awaited them would be beyond the power fo man to take away"
and then I was reading True to the Faith about foreordination and realizing how much of the mission was planned.
"Although you do not remember that time, you surely agreed to fullfill significant tasks in the service of your father. As you prove yourself worthy, you will be given opportunities to fulfill the assignments, you then recieved."
I really liked these things this week

Faith is a real power...

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned on this mission. 
"Faith is a real power, not just an expression of belief" I have come to have a very real knowledge of the power of faith. It really is a power, it can change you and your life. I know it has because I have lived it many times in France. When at the end of your day, when you have spent all of your day preaching this gospel and you feel like the only thing you can do is just enough energy to walk back home, I have learned faith, hope, patience is what keeps us going to the end, we say a silent prayer, and I have too many times felt the angels on my back carrying me onward and upward. I found this poem that I just loved so much,
"No ray of sunshine is ever lost,
But the green which it awakes into existance,
Needs time to sprout,
And it is not always granted to the sower
To see the harvest.
All work that is worth anything,
Is done in faith."
Albert Scweitzer
In the mission I have learned that we do a LOT of planting haha a lot of contacting, and not always to we see the ending result, the baptisms, or the progression of investigators, but we do our work in faith, so that one day there will be baptisms, and people will accept this gospel, because it is the truth. It is hard, "but light always wins" so we keep moving forward no matter what comes upon us. I think that is the biggest lesson I have learned. 
Ok, now im in Rennes, its a ville on the west coast of France, I LOVE IT! really i am so blessed to go from Paris, to here, ah! My comp right now is Soeur Ellis, she is from Nampa ID. I really love her, we get along really well, and she is going into nursing too! I live with another soeur equipe too, Soeur Back, and Hansen and guess what! Soeur Hansen is from Portland! haha Soeur Back is from SLC. We have an awesome time here doing work and recently on saturday we baptized our investigator Celine!!!! It was just an amazingly spiritual experience!

Love you all,
Soeur Stevens

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A walk in the country...

Coucou, (nobody says Salut anymore... sad) 
Alors, qu'est-ce que se passé cette semaine.....
Well, we worked a ton, we had zone conference, I talked to President, I love that guy, he just makes me so happy everytime we chat. He said he is really happy about the progress of rennes. He asked me a lot about the other soeurs in the apartment, I think he was like hoping I was going to be some sort of example to them.. in the end they have taught me way more. But, I do get called mom a lot... so thats weird. He asked me if there was anything I wanted or how the mission was going, we had a good chat about it, I asked him for a francophone... he replied some what like. " I already gave you one, stop asking, you speak fine." haha so yeah.. I think my francophone days are over. I got to see Elder Hall again. Oh that was fun! I almost cried, I miss Paris a lot. But I love Rennes so much too, it was just wierd feelings. We talked for a long time about stuff. Then I had my exchanges with the STL, she just asked me a ton about the other soeurs, ah I'll write you a letter. but it was an amazing exchange! Really I loved her and we need 3 new STL's next transfer.. ohh more changes in the mission.. my guess is Soeur Tippet will become an STL next transfer. I think I will stay in Rennes until May. Im excited. I think I will do 12 more weeks here and then leave somewhere for the rest of my mission. 
Ah today we are going to go to Fougers, to visit some castles!! YEAH! SO excited. then we have a dinner with a member family and amie, so easy day! Tomorrow we are thinking about going to St. Malo for some pass bys. I'm excited to leave Rennes for a bit. Oh what else. We are just keeping so busy, I havent even had time to write in my journal or write a lot of letters home with more detail. But it keeps time going by fast. We are in awe that we only have 2 weeks until the next transfer already! AH! Oh and next week is my 8th month mark! wow... wierd. Almost half way done already. Time is  flying. But I love it. Im so blessed to be here with all these amazing people!

So we teach an amie Lilly, from California but moved here with her French husband, so we speak english yeah! Anyway, she lives out in the boonies of Rennes. We went to go teach her but missed the bus, and so we have to walk about 2 miles through the country to the next station. BEST NIGHT OF THE MISSION! Just strolling under the stars in the middle of nowhere France. 


Some miracles that have happened lately... 

1. Ok so we have this amie, Jessica. She is only 22 and she has a baby, like 14 months. Ok so we went over to teach, she puts her baby Ky in the high chair to eat some bread while we talk, and were teaching the story of the book of mormon, and we got to the part about Christ ressurection in 3 Nephi, and she looked confused, and asked. "I didnt know we could be ressurected too? Like is this possible I want to know more!" Then, right then as I literally was about to say "YES YOU CAN" Her sons chair magically fell over! Like that thing is a solid high chair, how? Well, his head hit the wall and landed I saw it happen we all did, and I immediately started to say the biggest prayer of my life, I was just waiting for the blood like his neck was squashed betweek the wall and the chair, I cant even describe how wierd it was, and she runs over to him screaming, we all thought we needed to call 911. She picks him up, and he cries, not a bruise on the kid, and he stops in like 30 seconds, and we got to contine the lesson. But in those few moments I just got this feeling like angels were with us, and that he was caught by them, really it was an experience, we were also like, come on his chair happened to flilp over right when we talked about the ressurected Christ.. Satan was trying to stop us! It didnt win! HE NEVER WILL! Not when S.Ellis and I are teaching! hahaha.. but It was a crazy experience.

2. We were on the bus wednesday night last week, and it had been a long, but full day of work, there was just one other girl and guy on the bus as we were heading to the church, and the drivier. So we were sitting there just laughing and talking about the irony of our missions being a lot like what you hear at home, and all of a sudden we just stopped mid sentance and heard someone whistle ing Nearer My God To Thee. We looked at eachother... then the guy ahead of us.. he was on his phone reading, not singing, then the girl, who was just sitting there, and then the driver we could see through the mirror, who wasnt whistling. We were really confused.. so being the dork that I am I started humming with it to see if it was another person on the bus, but like loud enough that one of them might turn around.. nobody did. It kept going. We got to our stop and got off (its kinda in the counrty) and the guy got off and went the other way... it was still with us. Loud in our ears as we walked up the driveway of the church. We knew there was an angel with us, it was just the day of some amazingly blissful moments, but I just couldnt stop thinking about that pick by Greg Olsen with the two missionaries and the angel with them. It was that moment for us. Except I think this angel really wanted to be noticed lol. To this day we still cant figure out where that came from, on a silent bus, came the song nearer my god to thee. 

Ok so those are just a few of the miracles we get as missionaries.. today we are going up to Fougers to see castles!!! Yeah I'll send some pics next week!